If you believe the court made a legal error when deciding your case, you can appeal the final outcome. When many people think of appealing a legal case, they often think of criminal cases and other types of civil lawsuits. However, it is possible to appeal a divorce case, as well. The process is not easy, but our Brookfield appeals attorneys can help ensure you receive a better outcome the second time around.
You Have a Limited Amount of Time for Your Divorce Appeal
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your divorce case, you do have legal options. The first thing to do is to speak to a Brookfield appeals attorney who can ensure that your appeal is filed within a timely manner. You must file your appeal within 45 days or 90 days from the date of the divorce order, depending on the facts of your case.
Like other appeals, divorce appeals are heard in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. In the Court of Appeals, a panel made up of three judges will hear your case and determine whether the lower court, which is the court that issued the original divorce order. The Court of Appeals will then determine whether the lower court made an error and if so, the panel will either fix the mistake or it will send the case back to the lower court. If the case is sent back to the lower court, the Court of Appeals will include instructions on how to fix the mistake.
You can appeal your divorce case if it has been issued as a final order but you do not believe the final outcome is fair. For certain orders, you may have to obtain permission before appealing a certain aspect of your case. You can also obtain an interlocutory appeal if you wish to change the decision made in an order that is not yet final. Lastly, it is important to remember that certain types of orders cannot be appealed. For example, if you reached an agreement with your spouse and that agreement was entered into the final divorce order, you usually cannot appeal the terms of the agreement you entered into.
How Does the Divorce Appeals Process Work in Brookfield?
A divorce appeal is very different from your original divorce trial. The Court of Appeals does not start the case from the very beginning and there is no new trial. You will simply submit a brief to the Court of Appeals, and it is important to work with a Brookfield appeals attorney who can assist you with preparing the brief. Once your brief is submitted, the panel will review the case thoroughly to determine if the lower court made a mistake.
Usually, people appealing a divorce case do not have to return to court. However, if the panel of judges has questions for you, a hearing may be scheduled. You can expect to wait several months before receiving the decision of the Court of Appeals. According to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals Annual Report, the average divorce appeals case takes approximately ten months from beginning to end.
There are instances in which a person appeals their divorce case but the Court of Appeals still does not issue a decision in their favor. This can seem like a hopeless situation, but it is not. You may still be able to appeal to the Supreme Court. To do this, you must file a petition to appeal with the Supreme Court within 30 days of receiving the Court of Appeals’ decision.
The document you submit to the Supreme Court is known as the Petition for Review. Within it, you must argue your reason for the Supreme Court hearing your case. Still, it is important to know that there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will hear your case. In fact, the Supreme Court only reviews a small percentage of divorce case appeals every year. You have a better chance of your case being reviewed by the Supreme Court if the lower courts were divided on the issue you are raising, if there is a question about how the law was applied to a case, or if an important policy question is raised in your case.
Prior to filing your Petition for Review, you should speak to a Brookfield appeals attorney who can advise on whether you have a valid argument to be heard.
Steps to Take During the Appeals Process in Brookfield
The steps taken in your appeals case will largely depend on the facts of your case. Essentially, you should expect your appeals case to involve the following steps:
- File your Notice of Appeal: A Brookfield appeals attorney can advise on whether you need to file your Notice of Appeal within 45 days, or 90 days. Usually, it is the latter.
- Send notice: Just as defendants in an original divorce case must be notified once the divorce papers are filed with the court, the opposing party must also be informed of the decision to appeal. You must also notify the divorce judge that you are appealing their decision.
- Submit your brief: The brief you submit to the Court of Appeals should outline the mistake the lower court made, which forms the basis of the appeal.
- Attend a hearing: Again, it may not be necessary for you to attend another court hearing, but there are times when you will be called in for questions.
- Wait for the decision: The Court of Appeals will take several months to make their decision. During that time, it is important you continue to comply with the original divorce order, as you could face serious consequences for violating any portion of it.