Appeals of divorce cases are rare and very difficult to win, but offer spouses left unsatisfied with the outcome of their divorce an opportunity to challenge the ruling if the trial court made errors regarding the application of the law. For spouses seeking Las Vegas divorce lawyers to pursue a divorce appeal, understanding the basics of the process will aid in their decision.
Divorce appeals occur in contested divorces when one party is extremely dissatisfied by the outcome of the final divorce decree. The spouse challenging the divorce court’s decision – the appellant – files an appeal to an appellant court to reverse or overturn the original decision.
Divorce appeals are rare, and successful divorce appeals are even rarer. Most divorce attorneys advise their clients not to pursue them because of the expense involved and the small chance of success. Appealing a divorce decree typically takes many hours of preparation by the appellant’s attorney, who is often a new attorney specializing in divorce appeals, brought in to handle the case. In many cases, the appeal ends up costing more than the original divorce action.
The appeals process isn’t an opportunity to re-litigate the divorce. It’s a chance to reverse or overturn the trial court’s decision if it can be proved that the trial court did not properly apply the law in the original case. Appellants must be able to prove that the divorce court judge abused his or her discretion or made a legally incorrect ruling.
In general, there are three areas where a successful appeal might be made:
- If the court made insufficient findings of fact or conclusions of law.
- If the court did not carefully analyze the law and evidence when making its decision.
- If the court made an alimony award inconsistent with the typical range of alimony awards.
Typically, spouses who want to appeal a divorce must do so between 30 and 45 days following the divorce decree or judgment. They’ll need to file a notice of appeal. It can take a year or maybe more for an appeal to wind its way through the legal system. Also, should the appellant lose, he or she may have to pay the other spouse’s legal fees.
For some spouses, a motion to modify the terms of a divorce decree or agreement may be the more appropriate action. Motions to modify may be made as a result of changing circumstances. For example, should a spouse be hit with a large alimony payment, but later lose his or her job, having the decree modified by the court can reduce that payment.
Consulting with an experienced divorce or family law attorney can help spouses make the right legal decisions regarding appealing divorce judgments or modifying them.
The McFarling Law Group is a Las Vegas firm specializing in contested divorce and child custody cases. Emily McFarling is an experienced Nevada lawyer who is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist and a recipient of the Preeminent AV Rating. To learn more, call 702-565-4335.