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Top 10 Tips for Family Law Appeals

Tim Kowal     April 9, 2024

Every day as an appeals lawyer brings new puzzles. But some puzzles repeat. So in this episode, we compile the top 10 tips dispensed regularly to trial attorneys working in family court. They include:

👉 Know your appealable issues—appeal now, or lose it forever!

👉 Request a statement of decision. Don’t need to, you say? Judge already gave a tentative opinion, you say? You really need to hear this advice.

👉 Get the standard of review right, and use this tip when challenging discretionary rulings.

👉 Brief like an appellate attorney: Put cites on everything. Put headers on everything.

👉 Make a record!

And five more!

One thing we didn’t cover: Making Family Code § 2122 set-aside motions. Definitely consider that in your case.

Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed.

Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and YouTube page.

Sign up for Not To Be Published, Tim Kowal’s weekly legal update, or view his blog of recent cases.

Other items discussed in the episode:

  • Good example of the importance of the statement of decision: Abdelqader v. Abraham (Cal. Ct. App. Mar. 10, 2022 No. D078652) --- Cal.Rptr.3d ---- [F.C. 3044 presumption of unfitness triggered by prior DV finding may be rebutted only by written findings—lack of SOD required reversal].
    • Tim’s writeup on Abdelqader here. One of CALP’s top cases here.
    • But Abdelqader was not followed in Marriage of Burger.
    • Abdelqader was followed in Hutchins.
  • Tim’s article on sanctions for appellate briefing defects: “Attorney who ignored appellate rules hit with $50k in sanctions”. Case is Mandir, Inc. v. Tiwari (D4d3 Mar. 27, 2023 No. G060437) (nonpub. opn.).
  • Videos from this episode will be posted at Tim Kowal’s YouTube channel.
Tim Kowal is an appellate specialist certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Tim helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at CALpodcast.com, and publishes summaries of cases and appellate tips for trial attorneys. Contact Tim at [email protected] or (949) 676-9989.
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