In the event that a party wishes to appeal a judgment after trial or an arbitration decision where appellate rights were preserved, that party can initiate the appeals process. The Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court have concurrent appellate jurisdiction with respect to determinations made by the Probate and Family Court and other departments of the Trial Court. Appellate review in the first instance is in the Appeals Court. The appeals process is a lengthy and costly one and is best pursued in cases where it is apparent that the trial judge or abitraror committed and error of law or an abuse of discretion. As for factual inaccuracies or credibility findings in a decision, the Appeals Court nearly always defers to the Trial Court. An appeal begins by providing notice to the trial court, after which time the trial court assembles the record for the appeal. Then the appeal is docketed and a briefing schedule is established. The appellant is the person who is appealing the judgment and the appellee is the person defending the judgment. Once the briefs are submitted, the case is set down for oral argument in front of a panel of three judges. Once of the judge drafts a decision. The various outcomes include a reversal of the judgment (either in whole or in part), a remand to the trial court for further hearing, or upholding the judgment. Appeals Court decisions may be further appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.
There are also procedures by which parties can seek relief from an order or judgment directly from the judge who entered such order or judgment. A link to the governing Standing Order for post-hearing motions can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/probate-and-family-court-rules/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-2-99-procedure-for. In addition, a party can file a Petition for Interlocutory Appeal to the Appeals Court of a temporary order entered by the Trial Court. See information on the process here: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/single-justice-practice.
Attorney Maureen McBrien handles several family law appeals each year and enjoys the research, writing, strategy and oral argument involved in appellate work. Attorney Gina Calabro is an incredible writer who also handles appeals.