When you disagree with the decision of a judge about custody, parenting time, support, or property division, there are ways to try to get those decisions modified or even reversed. But, it is not easy to get rulings in family court changed because judges are given a lot of discretion in the decisions they make.
Time Is Of The Essence
However, if a judge makes a mistake in applying the law or with the facts of the case, you must take quick action to correct those mistakes, or you will lose your ability to change the order completely. An appeals court has very strict timelines and procedures which must be followed.
The first step generally to attempt to change an order after a divorce trial is through a “post-trial motion.” These are directed to the same trial court judge who decided your case originally. This is your chance to try to include facts that were left out or persuade the court that the facts and the law of your case did not support the conclusions the court came to.
By filing a proper post-trial motion, the strict time limits for taking a case before the Court of Appeals could be stopped until the motion is decided. Filing or not filing a post-trial motion can also impact how your appeal would be handled by the higher court. Once that post-trial motion has been ruled upon, then if you still are not happy with the result, you may “appeal” the case to the higher court. In Minnesota, the next court is the Court of Appeals.
But even before an appeal, you want an attorney who understands how to “preserve issues” for appeal at the trial level. If you haven’t done that, you may not get the opportunity to appeal anything about your order.
If you have questions about the appeals process and believe you may have grounds to appeal a final order in your family law case, you need to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Contact one of the divorce attorneys at Perusse Nixon PLLC to discuss your case.
An Appeal Is Not A Retrial
When you appeal a family law order, you are not preparing for a “do-over” in court. You do not get a second chance to make new arguments or introduce new evidence. There is no trial, there are no witnesses, and no new information is submitted to the higher court. An appeal is to argue that there were errors made at the district court level, and as a result, the court’s order was incorrect. The appellate court will examine the record of your district court case to determine if errors were made that impacted the court’s final order issued in your case.
Request For Modification Rather Than Appeal
If you have discovered new evidence or there has been a change in circumstances since the court’s final order was entered, a request for modification rather than an appeal may be appropriate for your case. A request for modification means that you want the court to examine new facts and modify the order accordingly.
For example, you may ask the court to modify a spousal maintenance order because your financial circumstances have changed, or you may request a modification for child support because your child’s needs and expenses have changed, or your financial circumstances have changed. You might also find that modifying custody or parenting time is beneficial because of changes in circumstances.
Types Of Family Law Matters For Appeal
Most types of family law orders are eligible for an appeal if mistakes were made at the trial level including, orders for protection, modification, child custody, child support, property division, and spousal maintenance.
Attorneys Cindy Perusse and Jennifer Nixon represent clients in family law matters at the district court and appellate court level. They will provide you with an honest analysis and assessment of your case, what you can expect on appeal and the potential for success on appeal.