When New Jersey parents go to court to resolve child-related issues, either in divorce or as single parents, it sometimes happens that a judge overseeing a particular case hands down a ruling that a parent believes is unjust. In some situations, a concerned parent may file an appeal. In other circumstances, however, filing an appeal in a child custody case would not be possible.

In order to better understand the appeals process, it helps to first understand that there are different types of rulings. Not all court orders are final. When a case remains ongoing, a judge can issue a temporary order if needed. A parent may not petition for an appeal regarding a non-final court order. If an appeal is going to be filed, the process is completed through an appellate court.

As in a family court, an appellate court judge always has the best interests of the children in question in mind. In other words, the higher court’s decision will be based on the same principles and factors of consideration as the lower court. No new evidence or testimony is allowed to be offered when an appellate court judge is reviewing a case for appeal.

There is no jury in an appellate case. An appellate judge’s review of a case is typically based on a written brief, which provides all documentation and necessary details about the lower court case and the initial ruling. An appellate court judge can reverse the decision of a lower court. The appeal process is not always the end of a child custody issue because the party who loses an appeal can request the New Jersey Supreme Court to review the case. Any parent currently concerned about child custody issues, especially regarding the appeal process, may request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney, which is always a good idea when litigation is anticipated.