For those who believe they didn’t receive a fair hearing in family court or by a county child support commission, a request for a De Novo hearing may offer a second chance to present new evidence or information or to get the perspective of a different judge.

A De Novo hearing is an important part of the appeals process. “De Novo” is the Latin term for “of new,” or like new. In legal terms, a De Novo hearing is one in which a second judge, court, or child support commissioner decides a case on appeal based only on the presented facts without considering a previous judge’s decision. Essentially, it’s like starting the process over from the beginning.

Why Request a De Novo Hearing in California Family Court?

If you feel that the judge made a mistake or lacked understanding of the facts of your family court case for child custody, child support, or spousal support, you’re entitled to request an appeal from the California Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court reviews the case and determines if an error was made at any point in your case and if the mistake had an impact on the judge’s ruling. In matters of family law, most rulings can be appealed if the appeal is filed in a timely manner. Deadlines for filing appeals vary from 10 to 60 days.

Because the deadlines vary depending on the ruling type, it’s best to speak to a Los Angeles family law attorney as soon as possible about appealing your case and asking for a De Novo hearing. Family courts always consider the best interest of the children as their highest priority. Therefore, in the interests of expediting a sense of permanency for children, family court appeals often have an accelerated process.

De Novo hearings may be the best way to appeal in cases where the rule of law comes into question in a previous judge’s ruling. In this case, the new court reviews the facts, evidence, and information as if the first ruling hadn’t occurred. The De Novo hearing does not defer to the previous judge’s opinion or even consider it. It also allows you to present new arguments and any new evidence to support your position.

What Are the Potential Outcomes of a De Novo Hearing in Family Court?

Even with substantial grounds for an appeal, there is no guarantee you’ll win your case. In order to gain a De Novo appeal, your attorney must prove the previous judge misinterpreted the law when making his or her ruling. For this reason, an experienced lawyer is the best person to consult on whether or not you have grounds to request a De Novo hearing or if there are other options available that are more likely to produce your desired result. For instance:

  • You could petition for a new family court trial
  • You could file a motion for the judge to reconsider his or her decision
  • You may be able to apply for a renewal
  • You could file a motion to vacate the judge’s decision

Speak to an experienced attorney about your options. Since every case is unique, an attorney who carefully reviews the circumstances of your case is in the best position to advise you of your options for an appeal, including whether or not a De Novo hearing is the best choice for a favorable outcome.