Divorces that fully satisfy both parties are exceedingly rare. Whether you’ve been denied custody or forced to pay more in alimony than you think is fair, you’re certainly not alone in feeling disappointed.
All hope of a satisfactory resolution is not lost. If you take your case to appellate court, you could walk away with a better outcome. This approach is not without risks, however, so it’s important to keep the following in mind:
- Time Is of the Essence
Appeals deadlines vary significantly based on the jurisdiction and nature of the case, but in all likelihood, you’ll need to make your decision quickly. Deadlines exceeding thirty days are rare.
- You Must Mentally Prepare for an Additional Trial
If you win your appeal based on legal errors, your case will likely be sent back to a lower court. Think carefully: you already endured the litigation process—do you still have the patience for an appeal and then an additional trial? Can you afford further legal action? If the decision you find objectionable involves a relatively minor matter, it may be in your best interest to accept the ruling and move on.
- New Evidence Is Rarely Allowed
Because appeals are typically grounded in legal errors, it’s rare for appellate courts to examine new evidence, no matter how compelling. Prior to appealing, you should feel confident that any mistakes that occurred in the initial case are significant enough to warrant further legal action.
- Circumstances Can Change During the Appeals Process
Family-related appellate cases often take a full year to resolve. If a case is later sent back to a lower court, the full process could last two years. During this time, significant changes can occur, impacting the outcome of the new case. For example, a dispute involving property division or alimony may be impacted by sudden job loss for the higher earning spouse.
- Appeals Versus Motions to Modify
Spouses often confuse appeals with motions to modify, but major differences divide these two post-trial approaches. With modification motions, new information may prompt reconsideration from the court in which the case was originally presented.