As I noted in a previous post, appellate law has its unique intricacies and technicalities. As such, bringing an appeal in a family-law case will be different from trying that case – as different in some cases as trying that case would be from trying, say, a criminal-law matter.
Consider for instance those few questions that will come up only in an appeal.
Can an appellant, whose initial brief advances two reasons to reverse the trial court’s decision, prevail for a third reason, which he raised later? The answer is no. A ground for appeal not raised in the initial brief is deemed waived or abandoned.
Do appellees have to limit themselves to responding to the arguments raised by appellants? Again, the answer is no. Appellees may present all good-faith arguments for upholding the trial court’s decision, without regard to the appellants’ contentions.
When someone files for bankruptcy, which by law stays all pending actions against the debtor, will that stay stop a pending appeal too? The answer is that it depends. The Florida Supreme Court held, for instance, that if the debtor paid a bond into court, the appeal may proceed because the bond is no longer the property of the debtor, insofar as it is not available to that debtor. (Other state courts have disagreed.) Also, the stay only applies if the action before the trial court was one against the debtor. If the now bankrupt party was the plaintiff, the stay will not come into play. That also means that an appeal taken from a trial against two parties, only one of which filed for bankruptcy, can continue against the co-defendant.
Legal intricacies always call for knowledgeable attorneys, and appeals are not exception.