Can I appeal my divorce judgment?

judge and gavel court appeal


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – It is not unusual to not be totally satisfied with the terms of your divorce judgment.  After all it was arrived at by negotiation and compromise with your soon to be ex.  Does that mean that you should appeal the terms of the final judgment?  Everyone has the right to appeal their judgment, but it doesn’t mean that you should or that you will be better off in the end.

The Appeals Court gives you 21 days to file an appeal.  You are attempting to have the Appeals Court overturn the lesser court’s decision.  Generally, the law favors the finality of any decision of the lesser court unless there are compelling circumstances that should be taken into account and were not.  If your spouse hid assets and you have discovered a pension plan, for example, that was not disclosed during the divorce it is considered fraud and may be a valid reason to have the Appeals Court take a second look.  If the trial judge made a legal error during the divorce trial such as basing a decision on old court rules that have changed or if evidentiary errors were made during the case, you may want to go ahead with an appeal.  If you were under duress, being threatened with violence by your spouse if you did not agree to his terms, an appeal may be a good idea.

Taking your case to the Court of Appeals is an expensive undertaking.  It can cost you as much as the original divorce so you should evaluate whether the outcome will gain you more than you could lose.  To begin with, your attorney has to order a trial transcript which will likely cost hundreds of dollars.  You will have to pay him or her to review it and  evaluate whether or not there are exceptional circumstances to base your appeal on.  If trial briefs were filed they also will have to be read and evaluated.  If it is determined that you have a basis for appeal then it will be filed with the appeal court.  So you can see that an appeal is not a second chance to get a better outcome just because you are not happy with the decisions made the first time.  It is an opportunity to right legal errors, spouses who purposefully committed fraud and a fundamental inequality in the final judgment.

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