Generally speaking the court has broad leeway to make decisions in all cases. The judge who handles a trial or hearing is able to view the witnesses and determine who is being honest and who is lying. That judge can then apply the laws to the evidence and testimony in making decisions. Because the court has the ability to make those findings it is extremely difficult to appeal its decisions. But it's not impossible. Just like everyone else, judge's make mistakes. They don't follow the law or they don't apply the law correctly to the facts. In those cases their decisions can be appealed to the higher court. With over a decade and a half of appellate experience, I can review your case and let you know whether you have any issues that can be appealed.
A few things to remember:
1) After a custody trial there is a fixed window of time in which you can appeal. The appellate rules set a deadline of 30 days to file an appeal to a trial court's order, and that deadline begins to run from the date of the court's order.
2) the transcript is absolutely necessary. You can request the transcript immediately after the trial is completed. Without it there is no way to compare the court's order to the actual testimony. Sometimes it is possible that the court's opinion on its own provides enough information to confirm the opportunity to appeal, but not often. It takes time for the court reporter to generate the transcript, and since you have a limited time to file the appeal the sooner you receive it the better off you'll be.
3) appeals are not often successful. The vast majority of lower court decisions are upheld by the appeals courts. But sometimes an appeal is your only recourse. In cases like relocation it may be the difference between keeping your children in Pennsylvania or seeing them move thousands of miles away. And in the case of a termination of parental rights it may be the only option available to prevent you from never seeing your children again. While successful appeals are rare, I have been able to overturn lower court decisions on numerous occasions and undo rulings that had negatively impacted my clients' lives.
HIGHLIGHTS OF SUPERIOR COURT APPEALS OVER THE YEARS
August 2011 - Successful defense of appeal for client after mother filed an appeal after her parental rights were terminated. Appeal denied and order affirmed.
March 2014 - Successful appeal on behalf of Father. Precedent set in Pennsylvania stating that trial judge could not use a party's post-trial brief as its findings of fact. Order vacated and proceedings remanded.
April 2018 - Successful defense of appeal on behalf of Mother. Father appealed custody trial order granting Mother primary physical custody. Superior Court upheld the order and dismissed Father's appeal.
November 2021 - Successful defense of appeal on behalf of Mother. Father appealed order terminating his parental rights. Superior Court upheld the ruling and dismissed Father's appeal.
July 2023 - Successful appeal on behalf of Father. Court had entered a custody order after trial granting Mother primary physical custody over 2,000 miles away without examining relocation factors. Superior Court found an error of law and vacated the trial court's order, remanding for further proceedings.