DON’T ADDRESS SIGNIFICANT ISSUES AT TRIALDuring the trial, it is natural to focus on the issues at hand, and not on what could happen if you need to appeal later on. For most issues, if it was not presented in the trial court, you cannot raise it for the first time on appeal. In one case from California, a husband appealed an order in which he did not raise the fact that he contributed $47,000 of his non-marital money toward paying down a mortgage on the wife’s separate property. The appellate court denied the appeal because the issue was never preserved at trial.
DON’T ADMIT DOCUMENTS INTO EVIDENCEMany who practice family law think the evidentiary rules are loosened up a bit in family court. This is a dangerous trap to fall into. Unfortunately, if you believe the judge will give you a little slack on admitting evidence, when you appear before a judge who strictly follows the Evidence Code, you are in for a painful surprise. But even if the family law judge allows in evidence – without strictly following proper evidentiary rules – this could cause problems on appeal. That’s because any trial court decision based on improperly-admitted evidence could be subject to reversal. Not many people go through the time and expense of trying to lose a lawsuit, let alone an appeal. But let’s face it, you may live in a country with strict capital controls. If so, losing a lawsuit may be the only way to get around restrictions on transferring currency out of the country.