Unresolved issues in marriage can remain unresolved in divorce. From custody to property, contentious matters may require court intervention; however, when a court decides, parties are obligated to obey the court’s ruling- even if they don’t agree. In these instances, a divorcing party has the right to appeal.
What Does it Mean to Appeal
An appeal is a person’s request that a higher court overturn a lower court’s decision. Simply disagreeing with a court’s decision is not a basis for appeal. In order to have a higher court review a lower court’s decision, a person must have grounds (reason) for an appeal. One of the reasons can be that the judge made an error of fact, law or procedure. Another grounds could be fraudulent information was relied on in making the decision. Still another reason for seeking an appeal could be that the court’s decision was fundamentally unfair.
How to file an appeal
Laws regarding divorces and appeals varies from state to state. In most cases, a person has 30 to 45 days to file an appeal regarding a ruling in a divorce case.
Once the decision to appeal has been made, a party files a notice of appeal. In the notice, the person informs the court and the other party that you disagree with the court’s decision.
Once the notice is received, the higher court will require the appellant (person appealing) to provide a copy of the court transcript (verbatim transcription) or an accurate summary of the facts. In addition to the verbatim transcription, the court will require a petition. In the petition, the appellant will explain what is believed to be the errors made by the lower court in deciding the case. Once the petition is filed, the appellee (the other side) gets the chance to respond.
The higher court will review the documents submitted. Sometimes, a decision will be made without a hearing; however, if they find merit in the appeal, a hearing is set for the sides to argue the dispute. Following the hearing, the court will issue a detailed opinion that either upholds the lower courts decision, remands (sends back) the case for the lower court to change its ruling, or offers another remedy.
Things to Realize
When a case is appealed, the higher court can only review evidence that was presented to the lower court. New information, no matter how crucial, cannot be considered.
Also, a party cannot appeal an issue that was not objected to in the lower court. For example, if you did not object to the visitation schedule in the lower court, it cannot become an issue on appeal.
When judges make decisions that affect your family, you have the right to challenge the decision. Appeals of divorce court rulings are not uncommon; however, understanding what can be appealed and the appeals process helps a person protect their rights and interest.