Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today
The mother won the appeal. "Vacated" means that the Appeals court is undoing the trial court's ruling. That also means that things go back to the way before that judgment was entered - so the mother should have custody until the trial court judge enters another order, unless there were temporary orders that said otherwise. "Remanded" means that the Appeals Court has been sent back to the trial court. So, the judge has to review the best interests factors and issue a written opinion that discusses them. If there was no trial before, there will have to be one now - a judge can only enter findings of fact after a trial. So, the mother may want to start preparing for a trial - she'll get a notice in the mail from the courthouse. They might do a status conference first.
The mother could also try to negotiate a settlement agreement with the grandparents for shared custody, because the fact that she won the appeal does not automatically mean that she'll win custody. The judge can issue findings of fact that explain why he granted custody to the grandparents, and why he thinks it's in the child's best interests to live with them, which could mean she'd have to appeal again.
If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.
The temporary order is reinstated until the judge issues findings of fact that support his decision. Only the final order should be vacated, because that's the order that was being appealed. Even if it was an Emergency Ex Parte order, if the parties didn't seen another temporary order later, that's going to remain in effect.
The Appeals Court doesn't have to address the statements made by the trial court judge when they're vacating the entire judgment, but there is unfortunately no cause of action against a judge for derogatory statements made in an opinion. Judges have immunity, and statements made during court proceedings are privileged. At this point, since the order was vacated, there's also no legal injury to be fixed.
From what you've said, the decision IS in her favor. But she can file a Motion for Temporary Custody, asking the judge to let her keep the children pending a final order, if there has been a material change in circumstances since the original order was entered.
The Supreme Court only takes cases that have been appealed up through the system. That means it's necessary to first appeal the decision, get a ruling from the Appeal Court, and then petition the Supreme Court for review.
If there is reason to believe the judge cannot or will not be impartial, a party can file a Motion for Recusal. And if there is any reason to believe the child is in danger where he or she is, then the mother could ask Child Services to investigate.