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Divorce | Family

How Many Times Can You Appeal a Divorce?

8 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

Generally, you can appeal a divorce as often as the court allows. Depending on the state and court system in which your divorce case takes place, you may be able to appeal your divorce decision more than once. If a higher court finds significant errors in how the lower court decided your divorce case, you may be able to file an appeal and get a second chance. In some states, you may have the right to file a notice of appeal once the lower court’s decision is over, but you may also have a limited time frame in which to do so.

An Appeal Court Reviewing A Trial Court’s Decision Regarding Divorce

An appeal court has strict procedures. When the trial court decides on a divorce issue, the parties involved may have the right to appeal that judge’s decision. An appeals court will review the trial court’s decision to ensure fairness for all parties, ascertain if valid grounds exist, and ensure adherence to the relevant legal principles.

Before making the final judgment, the bench will consider the arguments put forth by each party and decide if modifications to the trial court’s order should happen.

If the other party committed fraud or concealed assets during the divorce proceedings, the opposing party may appeal the divorce trial verdict to ensure proper property settlement.

A Divorce Appeal At The Appellate Court

If the lower court makes an adverse ruling, the aggrieved party can file a notice of appeal at the appellate court. During a divorce appeal, a party can bring evidence and legal arguments to challenge the lower court’s decision. The party filing an appeal should demonstrate that the appeal arises from the court’s mistake.

The Appellate Court will review the record from the lower court to determine if the relevant evidence supports the judge’s decision or if the decision follows the applicable law.

Appealing A Divorce Decree At The Court Of Appeals

The court of appeals judge will carefully evaluate the evidence presented during the divorce proceeding and make a ruling. One or both parties may appeal a trial court judge’s decision depending on their ruling.

Contentious issues in a divorce decree include:

Appellate Brief

An appellate brief is a written document prepared by a divorce attorney on behalf of a party in a trial case. When deciding, the appeals courts will consider the legal arguments presented in an appellate brief.

Trial Court

If a trial court abused its discretion when deciding on a divorce, an appeals court might reverse or modify the decision. In some cases, a trial judge may err in applying the law. Additionally, a trial judge may fail to consider all the facts before ruling.

Determine What To Dispute At The Appeals Court

When appealing a case, it is essential to determine what points to dispute and present. The potential issues may include the following:

  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody

To do this, you should research the legal standards and any relevant case law. Consider consulting an attorney to provide insight into your complex process.

Once you have identified the issue, you should create a brief outlining your arguments and any supporting evidence, including:

  • Citations to relevant laws
  • Court’s opinions and other legal authorities
  • Documentation in the clerk’s record
  • A trial transcript
  • Clearly-articulated statement of the facts that support your view
  • Finally, prepare for an oral argument, which may include the following:
    • Live testimony
    • Or simply responding to questions posed by the judge

Requests To Change A Divorce Decree

Divorce decrees are binding documents and can only be changed if both spouses agree or a judge orders them. Once the final divorce decree is complete and entered with the law court, it is difficult to make any changes. However, an aggrieved spouse may file a modification request in limited circumstances. To modify an existing divorce decree, both parties or their respective attorneys must file a motion.

The motion to modify a divorce decree must include the following:

  • Must explain why the modification is needed and what changes are necessary for a new final decree
  • The parties must also provide evidence that the conditions at the time of the original decree have changed significantly since then, warranting a modification of the original proceedings.
  • The motion must also specify that both spouses agreed with the changes and that the final order will not adversely impact children affected by the modification.

Both parties must appear before a judge to explain their position upon filing the motion. The bench may also order mediation for the parties if necessary. The judges will ultimately decide whether to grant the motion, deny it, order a new trial, or order other actions that would be in the best interests of all parties involved.

The Oral Argument At The Appellate Court

The next step in appealing a divorce is to attend an oral argument at the court, where attorneys for each party present their views to a panel of three judges. During the oral argument, each attorney will have an opportunity to make their case, and the judges will ask questions to each attorney.

The attorneys will then be able to respond to those questions and further explain their arguments. The oral arguments aim for each attorney to present their opinion clearly and concisely so that the judges can make an informed decision that aligns with the law. After each attorney has presented their case, the law court will typically take some time to deliberate before issuing a decision.

It is important to note that the judge’s decision could completely reverse the original ruling or uphold the lower court’s judgment. The judges may also issue an opinion that has modified the original ruling.

Await The Ruling Of The Appellate Court

The parties in an appeal dispute must await the ruling of the Appellate Court. Generally, an appeal can take months to years, depending on the case’s complexity and the many requests involved. During this time, a judge will review the evidence and arguments each side presents and decide on the case’s outcome.

The ruling from the Appellate Court is binding and can either uphold the initial decision of the original judge or overturn it. It is essential to understand that this ruling may take a significant amount of time and not necessarily provide the result you are looking for. Therefore, preparing thoroughly before an appeal is essential, as there may be a lengthy wait for a ruling.

How Much Time Does One Need To Allocate For A Divorce Appeal Process?

The time needed to appeal a divorce process will vary depending on the case’s complexity and the local court’s procedures. Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that the appeal will take at least several months from start to finish. Factors like waiting lists for court dates, delays in obtaining evidence and witness testimony, and the intricacy of legal issues can contribute to longer wait times.

How Likely Is It To Succeed In A Divorce Appeal?

The likelihood of success in a divorce appeal depends on several factors, including the specific factual and legal issues involved and the skill of the local attorney representing the appealing party.

Generally speaking, an appeal has a higher chance of success if there is a legal error in the trial court’s finding or ruling or if new evidence is available that did not feature in the original case. To increase the chances of success in a divorce appeal, securing a divorce lawyer with experience handling appeals is essential.

Who Has The Right To Contest A Divorce Decree?

In any case, both parties can contest a divorce decree. An ex-spouse can challenge the court’s final judgment through an appeal process, typically requiring a thorough review of all evidence and arguments presented at the original trial. If one or both parties are dissatisfied with the trial judge’s decision, they may file a motion to reconsider or modify the ruling.

In some jurisdictions, additional opportunities for contesting a final divorce decree may exist after the appeals process is exhausted. For example, some states allow post-divorce proceedings that can modify or vacate the original court order involving issues such as spousal support order or an incident of fraud committed by the ex-spouse.

Depending on the laws of your state, you may also have the opportunity to file a motion for reconsideration if the trial court judge fails to consider specific evidence or legal points that you presented during the court proceedings.

Don’t Go Through Your Divorce Appellate Case Alone – Get the Help Of An Unbundled Divorce Attorney

Going through a divorce appeal is complex enough and time-consuming, but doing it without an attorney can make the appellate process even more difficult.

Filing for a divorce appeal without an attorney is like battling without a weapon. You’re at a disadvantage from the start and likely to lose.

An unbundled family law firm can provide accessible legal services, with fees ranging from a mere $500 to an affordable $1500. An average attorney may cost you approximately $5,000.

Even though Unbundled legal services may not be the perfect solution for every situation, they can be immensely beneficial if you only require a limited amount of attorney involvement in a family law matter. Contact an Unbundled divorce attorney to safeguard your appeal legal rights.

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