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I’m Not Happy with My Divorce. Can I Appeal the Ruling?

Law books in a rowYou have the legal right to appeal the ruling of your divorce. Taking a ruling from the trial level to the appeal level is an extensive process, which usually takes over a year to accomplish. To ensure your best chance of success, educate yourself on what’s involved in the appellate court process before you appeal.

Criteria for Appeal
There are two main criteria when appealing divorce decisions involving marital property.

  1. The judge must have abused his/her own discretion or have given a ruling that was inaccurate in terms of law, procedure, or fact.
  2. Before the appeals court will even consider overturning the judgment of your divorce, you must show proof of one or more of the following:
  • Fraud
  • Misconduct or a mistake 
  • Fundamental injustice or unfairness in an agreement.

Consider a New Attorney
Appellate court is more complicated and technical than what occurs at the trial level. An appellate attorney will be familiar with the intricate appeals process while a trial attorney likely will not.

How Does the Appeal Work?
You have 30 to 45 days from the final judgment of your divorce to file a notice of appeal document. The notice of appeal usually requires the following:

  1. You must inform the trial court, your ex-spouse, and the court reporter of the appeal.
  2. You must describe in detail why you are appealing.
  3. You may need to request, and pay a fee, for your trial transcripts.
  4. You must create a “record below” which consists of:
    All transcripts of the proceedings in trail courts
    All admitted evidence.
    All documents filed in both trail and appellate court in relation to your divorce.
    All of the above; carefully typed and organized by a personally paid paralegal complete with an appendix, numbered pages, and index, all paginated and bound.
  5. You must send the original record below to the appellate court with four copies. At least one copy is also sent to your ex, the trial court, your attorney, and yourself. A record below can amount to hundreds of pages, so the copy cost can be considerable.

Winning the Appeal
The appellate court usually consists of three judges responsible for reviewing your appeal and all supporting documents. If the court approves your appeal, they will order a reversal and usually a remand.

A reversal is the appellate ruling to overturn the trial ruling on a given matter.

A remand is a directive of the appellate court for the trial court to re-do the trial with whatever specific directives the appellate court states in its appellate opinion.

Losing the Appeal
If the appellate court disapproves, you have only one other option. You can appeal to the higher court; however it’s very rare for the state’s Supreme Court to accept a divorce appeal.

The appeals process differs from state to state. If you’re unhappy with your divorce ruling, contact the legal counsel of Sherer Law regarding appellate court proceedings in Illinois.

To see a more specific example of a recent appeal win by Sherer Law offices, click here.

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