Like everyone and everything in life, the judicial system isn’t perfect. As such, sometimes trial courts get it wrong. If you or someone you know just received a child custody determination that you believe was wrongly decided, you have the ability to seek relief via an appeal. How is this done? How long does it take? In this blog, we look at the general process for appealing a custody order in Indiana.
The first thing to consider in the appeal process is the timing of initiating the appeal. Generally speaking, once you receive a final custody order, whether it be an initial custody determination or a modification of custody, you have thirty (30) days to file what is called a Notice of Appeal. The Notice of Appeal provides fairly general information, such as party information, trial court information, and the custody order you want to appeal. If you miss this deadline, you forfeit the appeal. Once the Notice of Appeal is filed, the court reporter has forty-five (45) days to prepare the transcript. The transcript will contain the testimony and evidence (exhibits) presented at the custody hearing(s).
Upon the court reporter completing and filing the transcript, presupposing one was requested, the Clerk will file a Notice of Completion of Transcript. Once this is completed, the time starts to run for you to file your brief. An appellant has thirty (30) days from the filing of the Notice of Completion of the Clerk’s Record to file the Appellant’s Brief. When the Appellant’s Brief is filed, the non-appealing party, or the Appellee, will then, in turn, get thirty (30) days to file a Response Brief. If the Appellee does not file a Response Brief, then there is nothing more to do. However, if the Appellee files a Response Brief, then you will get an opportunity to file a Reply Brief to the Appellee’s Brief. You will only receive fifteen (15) days to complete the Reply Brief. Once the Reply Brief is filed, the briefing and record are transferred to the judges who decide your case in the Court of Appeals to make a determination. These judges are called the writing panel.
The above information is general in nature, and there are exceptions to almost every rule. Appellate practice is extremely technical. If you believe the court wrongly decided your custody matter, or there were other issues in your trial to appeal, obtaining skilled counsel is key to navigating the complex waters of appeals. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all types of appeals, civil or criminal, throughout Indiana. This blog is intended for general educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.