When a divorce becomes final, a family court judge will issue a final court order announcing alimony, child support and other settlements. If any party involved disagrees with and chooses to ignore the court order, he risks being held in contempt and could face fines or jail time. The proper way to disagree with a divorce settlement is to appeal it, and each state has its own rules for appealing court rulings. An appeal can be filed by either party involved or by the attorneys representing them.
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Consult with the attorney who handled your divorce. Ask if he or she also practices appellate law and discuss additional fees for him or her to represent you in an appeal. Ask your divorce attorney for referrals to appellate lawyers if your divorce attorney is unable to proceed. Call and ask for a free consultation with an appellate lawyer to determine if you have a strong case for an appeal. Take your final court order to your consultation.
Order the transcripts from your divorce hearing. Contact the court clerk's office to get contact information for the court reporter. Expect to pay anywhere from £65 to £390 to get a copy of the transcripts.
File your appeal in the state where the divorce settlement was ordered. Check the state's appellate court website to find the proper forms, rules and filing fees associated with an appeal. Expect to pay a filing fee, usually £65 or more, to get your appeal in motion.
Send copies of all the legal documents you submit to the court to the other party in the case. Send proof of service to the court.
Follow up with the clerk of the court. You should receive a letter from the court confirming that your appeal was accepted and informing you of additional filing deadlines. Each party in the appeal will submit written briefs --- legal documents stating the arguments for your case --- along with supporting documents, such as financial records or transcript pages. You will be notified if a hearing for oral arguments is issued or when a ruling on the appeal is made.
Tips and warnings
- A lawyer who practices appellate law will likely be more effective at filing and winning an appeal than you would be on your own.
- Carefully read the list of rules for your state. Whether you file the appeal on your own or hire an attorney to do so on your behalf, make certain the right forms are submitted and that your filings meet all deadlines to have your case heard by the appellate court.
- Each time you submit a document to the court, call the clerk of court's office and ask for confirmation that it was received and that there were no problems with its filing.
- When you file an appeal, you cannot submit new evidence or new arguments that were not heard by the judge that ordered the divorce settlement. You can only submit or draw arguments from evidence that has already been submitted to the court. It is also not guaranteed that your case will proceed to oral arguments, so make certain you state your arguments in full detail in the written briefs you submit to the court.
- A missed deadline, failure to serve the other party or improperly submitted document can get your appeal dismissed before it is considered by a judge.
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