Understanding Your Rights On Appeal

appealTo understand your rights on appeal, it is first necessary to realize that an appeal is not a completely new trial.  Rather, an appeal is a review of the trial court’s decision to determine whether that decision was made in accordance with the law and applicable facts.  The party who was unhappy with the trial court’s decision (the appellant) is the one who brings the case to the appellate court to ask for this review.  The party who was satisfied with the trial court’s decision (the appellee) will argue for the trial court’s decision to stay in place.

In Illinois, if you appeal a case, three appellate court judges will review the case and consider arguments from the parties.  After looking at the trial court’s ruling and the case and listening to the arguments from both sides, the appellate court will issue a ruling as to whether it is maintaining or reversing the decision of the trial court.

One of the complicated issues in appeals is understanding what decisions can be appealed. This can sometimes be a murky area. Generally, a final judgment in the trial court may be appealed. [1] A final judgment is considered one which resolves all issues and rights in a case. [2]

Family law cases can sometimes be difficult to navigate when it comes to the appeals process, as more times than not, multiple issues are involved and may not be resolved at the same time.  For instance, one family case may involve issues of divorce, child custody, child support, distribution of property, maintenance and other issues. Under the final of judgment rule, generally, all issues would need to be resolved before an appellate court would have authority to review the decision of the trial court.  This means that orders on temporary matters, such as temporary child support or interim fees, will generally not be appealable until there is a final order on the issue. [3] These types of orders are not final judgments as the issue is still pending and will need to be completely resolved by the trial court by the end of the trial court proceedings.

However, Illinois provides an exception to this rule in some cases.  If the trial court judge decides some, but not all, issues, it can also issue a written order stating that there is no reason for delaying an appeal on the decided issue(s). [4] If this happens, a party who wants to immediately appeal the issues that have been decided may do so, rather than waiting for the trial court to resolve all issues.

Some issues that are likely to be given this immediate appellate approval are child custody and the division of parental responsibility.  In fact, in Illinois, appeals on these issues are expedited so that the appellate court generally hears them more quickly than it would an appeal in another case. [5] Additionally, if a party is appealing multiple issues that include child custody or parental responsibilities, the issues will all be heard together.

For more information and help regarding your rights in an appeal or other matters, please contact Sherer Law Offices at (618) 692-6656.

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[1]Ill. Sup. Ct., R 301 Method of Review.

[2]Steinbrecher v. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill. 2d 514, 259 Ill. Dec. 729, 759 N.E.2d 509 (2001).

[3]2 Gitlin on Divorce § 16-8 Appeals (2018)

[4]Ill. Sup. Ct., R 304 Appeals from Final Judgments that do not Dispose of an Entire Proceeding

[5]1 Gitlin on Divorce § 11-18 Mandatory Accelerated Disposition of Child Custody or Allocation of Parental Responsibility Appeals (2018)

 

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