12. Appeals

Within thirty days of the Court issuing its last Order in the matter, you have the right to appeal to our appellate Courts. That appeal is initially made to the Kansas Court of Appeals. Appeals are very expensive and generally take somewhere between twelve and eighteen months to complete. The appeal process involves securing transcripts of all of the proceedings in the Family Court, copies of the exhibits and the like, and then having all of the pertinent portions of the lower Court records bound into volumes and represented to the appellate Court. That becomes the Record on Appeal. Once the Record on Appeal is completed, the spouse who appeals must present a written Appellant’s Brief. The opposing spouse then has the opportunity to present what is called a Respondent’s Brief, to which the appealing spouse has the right to enter a Reply Brief. These Briefs set forth your legal position on the facts and law as they apply to your case. In addition to appealing final decisions, there are also procedures to go before the appellate Court to challenge the implementation of Orders, such as by a Supersedeas or Petition for Stay. Those are called extraordinary writs. After the Record on Appeal and Briefs has been completed, the appellate Court will then typically set the case for oral argument. In the Court of Appeals oral argument takes place before a three Judge panel. In the Supreme Court, oral arguments are made before the full Court (seven Justices). In some instances, the appellate Court can dispense with oral argument and decide the case upon the record on appeal and briefs. The appellate Court then issues its opinion, which it may do by published or unpublished opinion. Typically, that opinion will affirm, reverse or reverse in part and affirm in part. The first step of the appellate process begins with the Court of Appeals. Then there is a limited right of appeal from the Court of Appeals to the Kansas Supreme Court on Petition for Review. If the case is affirmed on appeal, then the Family Court Order will become the final Order in this case and will then be implemented. If the Family Court Order is reversed or modified, the appellate Court can direct specifically how the Family Court Order is to be modified, or it may remand the case to the Family Court for further proceedings consistent with the appellate Court’s opinion. Appeals are generally considered expensive as you must order and pay for transcripts of the lower Court proceedings, which must then be assembled and duplicated in order to become the Record on Appeal. The Briefs are labor intensive and take many lawyer hours to complete. Appeals should be taken only when you are truly aggrieved by the lower Court’s decision and the economics of the situation justifying the cost.