In most cases involving divorce or family law matters, the parties are able to negotiate an agreement outside of the courtroom. They only require the court to approve and formalize terms already drafted, with very little actual decision-making required. Sometimes, though, the parties cannot reach an agreement and the matter is left to the court to decide. Such a ruling by the court typically carries an air of finality, especially if it feels like you were on the “losing” end. A less than favorable judgment is not necessarily the end, however, and filing an appeal could potentially allow you to work toward setting things right.
Following the entry of the initial court’s judgment, you have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal. The notice must be filed with the circuit court and announces your intention to challenge all or part of the judgment and the relief that you intend to seek. The reviewing or appellate court may grant an extension for up to an additional 30 days, but only if you have a justified reason for missing the original deadline.
It is crucially important to remember that appeal is not really a second chance to present your case. Instead, an appeal is typically based on a perceived error committed during the initial trial. Such a mistake may include:
- Noncompliance by the court with procedural requirements;
- Misapplication of the law;
- Misinterpretation of the law;
- Abuse of discretion in applying the law to the facts presented;
- Inappropriately taking evidence into consideration; and
- Inappropriately excluding evidence from consideration.
After your Notice of Appeal has been filed, you will need to work closely with a qualified attorney to put together your appellate brief. In your brief, you must clearly demonstrate why you believe the court erred in its ruling. Disagreeing with the decision is not enough; you must show that part of the case was handled incorrectly in some way or your appeal is likely to be denied.
Based on your brief, you may be required to present oral arguments to the appellate court as well. The appeals court has several options in deciding your case. The original ruling can be reversed, meaning the trial court was incorrect and the appellate court fixed the mistake. Alternatively, the original judgment can be affirmed, meaning the ruling stands, or the appeals court could require your case to be heard again from the beginning. Also, the appellate reverse and remand back to the trial court with instructions to hear further evidence on certain issues.
For more information about appealing your divorce judgment, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney today. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we understand that time is of essence in such matters and will help you make the appropriate decisions quickly and responsibly. Call 630-377-7770 today and get the representation you deserve.