Whether or not you can appeal your child custody decision depends on the answer to two questions: (1) Did a judge issue a final ruling on your child custody case or did you settle it out of court; and (2) was that decision unlawful or was the lawfulness of your legal process jeopardized for some reason?

If you answered “yes” to both questions above, then it might be possible to file a child custody appeal.

What if I settled my child custody matter out of court and a judge approved it?

If you entered into an out-of-court divorce settlement, even though a judge will have approved it, there is no court ruling to appeal. Therefore, you can’t file an appeal relating to your child custody arrangements. What you may be able to do is file a request to modify your child custody agreement, preferably with the court that approved it originally.

Your request will present various arguments to show why you have experienced a significant change in circumstances that necessitates a modification to your existing arrangements for the benefit of your child.

If you did not enter into a settlement and a judge issued a ruling in your case

In the case that a judge made an unlawful decision in your case, you can appeal the decision to a higher court and try to have it overturned. The process of filing an appeal is more involved than submitting a modification request. Furthermore, unlike a modification, an appeal must be filed within a specifically limited period of time after the judge issues a decision, so it’s important to pursue the appeal immediately.

In most child custody appeals, the Appellate Court will either reject or confirm the lower court’s decision on your child custody case. If the court rejects the decision, it will send it back to the lower court to review the judgment or retry the matter.

Are you dealing with an unfair child custody award? You might want to talk with an Arizona child custody lawyer now.