Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Do I have the right to appeal an Allegheny County child custody decision?

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So you've gone before a judge for your Pennsylvania child custody matter, but didn't like the outcome of your case. Now what? Well fortunately you have the option to appeal the custody decision however you must appeal on appropriate grounds. In today's blog, your Allegheny County child custody lawyers explain if and when you can appeal a decision made in your case.

The most common way to appeal a trial court's decision in a custody related matter is to challenge the trial court claiming they abused their discretion. By appealing on this basis, an individual is challenging the court's decision by saying they overstepped their powers by determining something that was outside the scope of evidence and testimony.

Though this seems like a very plausible approach to appealing, it is actually very difficult to determine if the trial court actually abused their discretion. The trial court level has a very broad range of power to determine the best interest of the child. The trial court is given statutory factors that are not weighted for importance as guidelines to use to determine best interest.

On review, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania takes the record of the trial court to establish all facts and evidence of their own record. It is not the role of the Superior Court to determine additional facts or review additional evidence. The role of the Superior Court is solely to look at the basis of the appeal: the alleged abuse of discretion. Because the abuse of discretion can and often is dependent on the facts and evidence established, it is often very difficult to provide such an abuse occurred.

The best way to go about seeking change in a custody order is filing a modification with the court of common pleas in Allegheny County. Custody is always modifiable. Once you have filed a modification with the court, you will be sent through a program called Generations. This program includes an educational seminar, mediation between the parties involved in the suit, and if an agreement cannot be made during mediation a conciliation with a hearing officer or judge.

If you are an individual in need of a custody modification, please contact our Western Pennsylvania child custody attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates. If you would like to learn more, read about custody on our website!

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