Appealing Adverse Court Decisions in Maryland: A Legal Guide for Family Law Cases
Family law cases, including divorce, custody, child support, alimony, and visitation, are some of the most emotional and contentious legal matters. When parties are dissatisfied with the outcome of their case, they may consider appealing the court’s decision. In Maryland, appellate courts review cases to determine whether legal errors were made at the trial court level. If a party believes that a legal error occurred, they may have the option to appeal. This guide will discuss the process of appealing adverse court decisions in Maryland family law cases.
Understanding Maryland’s Appellate System
Maryland has two levels of appellate courts: the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals. The Court of Special Appeals is the intermediate appellate court, while the Court of Appeals is the highest in Maryland. The Court of Appeals hears appeals from the Court of Special Appeals, as well as certain cases from the trial courts. Family law appeals are typically heard by the Court of Special Appeals.
Grounds for Appeal in Family Law Cases
An appeal is not a new trial. Rather, it is a review of the lower court’s decision to determine whether any legal errors occurred. To succeed in the appeal, a party must demonstrate that the trial court made a legal error that affected the outcome of the case. In Maryland, there are several common grounds for appeal in family law cases:
- Legal errors. A party may appeal if they believe the trial court made a legal error, such as misinterpreting a statute or case law. If the error affected the outcome of the case, the appellate court may overturn the lower court’s decision.
- Abuse of discretion. Trial courts have a great deal of discretion in family law cases. However, if a party believes that the court abused its discretion in making a decision, they may have grounds for appeal.
- Evidentiary issues. Parties may appeal if they believe the trial court made an error in admitting or excluding evidence. However, to succeed on appeal, the party must demonstrate that the error affected the outcome of the case.
- Constitutional violations. If a party believes their constitutional rights were violated during the trial court proceedings, they may have grounds for appeal.
- Procedural errors. If the trial court made a procedural error that affected the outcome of the case, a party may have grounds for appeal. For example, if the court failed to follow the correct procedures for admitting evidence or issuing a ruling, the appellate court may overturn the decision.