Divorce proceedings can be among the most hotly-contested cases in today's courtrooms. When tempers run high, it can be easy to think that a decision reached by the trial judge is unfair, unwarranted, or flat-out wrong. You have the right to appeal such an order, but when does it make sense to pursue an appeal? Are there situations when leaving well enough alone is the best option of a bad lot? Read on to learn more about the factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to appeal an order or judgment in your divorce case.
Is the order final?
In most situations, the appeal process isn't available until the trial court has issued a final, appealable order. This means that preliminary orders issued in your divorce, which can range from custody or parenting time arrangements to the disposition of property, may not yet be "ripe" for appeal.
However, each state has rules that permit litigants to essentially "pause" the case and seek an interlocutory appeal. To do so, you'll need to petition the trial court to certify the order you'd like to appeal, then file a notice of appeal with the appellate court to see if it would like to take the case. If your interlocutory appeal is certified, you're free to argue your case to the appellate court; if it's denied, you'll need to continue your proceedings in the trial court.
Even if an interlocutory appeal is available, pausing the case to dispute a certain issue could ultimately delay the resolution of your divorce and cost you more in legal fees. You'll want to talk to your attorney about the pros and cons of seeking an appeal at an early stage or waiting until the order is final and appealing all disputed issues.
Is the law in your favor?
Sometimes, a court's decision may seem quite unfair but is made in accordance with the statutes and case law in your state. If so, appealing and arguing that the order just isn't fair is likely to be a waste of time and resources. If your appeal is truly frivolous, your ex-spouse may even be able to seek appellate attorney's fees for the cost of defending the appeal.
On the other hand, if the trial court has misapplied the statutes, failed to consider certain relevant information, engaged in clearly biased behavior and rulings, or entered an order that goes against prior cases with similar fact patterns, you may have some solid grounds for an appeal of this judgment.
To start your divorce mediation on the right foot, contact resources such as Chesney & Nicholas LLP.