Don’t like the way your divorce got sorted out? You can always file an appeal.
But it won’t be easy.
First, you will need to act quickly.
If a magistrate heard the case, you will need to file a “Notice of Exception to the Report and Recommendation of a General Magistrate” within 10 days of its issuance. The next hearing will then be heard by the Circuit Court.
However, if the case was tried and decided by a judge, you can make a motion for a rehearing. More often than not, the judge isn’t going to grant this request since they just heard both arguments and issued their final order on the matter.
Next, you’ll need to file an appeal with the District Court of Appeals within 30 days of the Circuit Court’s decision. While the time frame is restrictive, the chances for success are even slimmer.
The judicial system is routinely burdened with a loaded docket, meaning there are often more cases in front of the courts than they can handle. Therefore, there is no “second bite at the apple.”
This means you will not get to retry your case in the appellate division on the merits and you can’t introduce new evidence. Instead, according to the Equality in Marriage Institute, you’ll have to prove that “the judge abused his/her discretion, or made a ruling that was purely erroneous as a matter of law, fact or procedure.” Alternatively, you must show some instance “of fraud, misconduct or mistake in negotiation” that caused a “fundamental inequity or unfairness in the agreement/decree.”
Those are difficult standards to meet.
Appeals are costly and time-consuming matters to adjudicate. During that time, the lower court’s ruling will be in effect.
This is why it’s imperative that you get it right the first time. You need to be thorough and address every possible issue during the initial proceedings. The best way to accomplish that goal is to find experienced and knowledgeable representation that will consider things that you might forget during an emotional time.