Divorce Appeals in Alabama
Divorces are hard financially, emotionally, and mentally. But what is more complicated is the feeling that the ruling you have received is not fair. If you have been involved in divorce proceedings, it may so happen that the order that the trial judge passes is unacceptable to you or that you feel an error in the court's judgment. You may think that the judge failed to consider crucial legal precedents or had misapplied the law.
You may also think that the ruling is colored by the judge's own experience, biases, or the judge's failure to consider an essential aspect of evidence. In such a case, explore the option of an appeal. You should contact a Huntsville, Alabama, divorce lawyer as soon as possible if you are not satisfied with your divorce decree. Our attorneys have significant experience helping to divorce couples throughout Alabama with divorce appeals.
What is a Divorce Appeal?
The great news is, under Alabama law, you may move to vacate, amend or alter the ruling passed by the lower court by filing a Rule 59 motion within 30 days of the court's ruling. If the Rule 59 motion is denied or not ruled upon in 30 days, it is prohibited by the operation of law. You also can file an appeal within 42 days of the trial court's divorce order. A person who applies before the Higher Court is called the Appellant. Typically, in cases of appeal arising out of divorce proceedings, one would be requesting a higher court to review the trial court's order relating to child support, custody of a child, division of assets, alimony, etc. remember that just because you feel that the trial judge has erred in their decision does not mean it will support an appeal. To prevail on appeal from divorce proceedings in Alabama, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals must find that the trial court abused its discretion. This is usually an onerous burden to meet.
The application for appeal can be made for a single issue or could have multiple problems. Much like most legal proceedings, there is a time limit to apply to an appeal. So, the decision to move the higher court for a request must be made swiftly, and you promptly contact an Alabama Appellate Attorney experienced in divorce cases. In an Alabama divorce appeal, all five judges on the Court of Appeals will review the case.
What to expect from a Divorce Appeal?
Appeal against the final judgment will not result in a full-fledged trial. Usually, the higher court will not re-examine the pieces of evidence and witnesses. Matters of fact as recorded and established will not be questioned and accepted by the higher court. It is only a matter of misinterpretation or incorrect application of the higher court's law. In Alabama, judges and not juries hear divorce trials and decide child custody, asset division, alimony, and the like.
While the Court of Appeals will not delve into the issues of fact, it does not mean all matters of fact are excluded. Maybe some new facts come to light post the trial proceeding and could not have been discovered during the original proceedings. In such cases, the Court of Appeals will consider them while reviewing the application for an appeal.
An example of when to file for a modification of the decree is - if, at the time of ruling of the trial court, the spouse was unemployed; however, after the proceeding, the spouse has become employed, then you may move the court to modify the spousal support order to consider the new employment of the other spouse. This, however, is not an appeal but a divorce decree modification.
Another example would be if the decree mentions a sum to be paid towards spousal support; however, the legal principles applied to arrive at the sum were incorrectly applied, then you can challenge the sum decreed in an appeal.
You must file the appeal within the timeframe to prevent your right of appeal from being forfeited. It would be best if you remembered that merely the fact that you are dissatisfied by the court's judgment is not a ground to have the review amended, altered, or vacated. Generally, on law issues, the higher courts give preferred weightage to the trial judge's decision while coming to their conclusion.
Process of Divorce Appeal
The process of appeal begins by filing a motion to that effect. After that, the record on appeal is prepared, which contains the clerk's record and the court reporter's trial transcript. It is followed by a written summary of facts and legal points submitted by the Appellant's lawyer before the Court of Civil Appeals. In response, the opposite side then files its brief. If required, the Appellant can also submit a brief in reply to the opposite side's brief. This process can be very lengthy and time-consuming. The Court of Civil Appeals can take months to issue an opinion on the case.
Do I need a divorce lawyer or a divorce attorney?
To have the best chances at an appeal or even to understand whether a request can be made, it is best to speak to a divorce attorney near you in Huntsville and Madison County. The best way to ensure that the final decree from the trial and any appeal arising out of it is fair to you is hiring a divorce attorney at your trial hearings with extensive experience and a deep understanding of Alabama law. It will make the process of appeal much smoother and more likely to succeed.
We can help you in such matters. Our Alabama divorce law firm has won numerous awards for family law and divorce. We regularly represent clients facing divorce, child custody, child custody modifications, and military divorce throughout Huntsville, Madison, Limestone, and Morgan Counties. We pride ourselves on giving each client the individual attention they need, and our representation in the divorce fight is dictated by our client's wishes. Please get in touch with us here for a free consultation, or call us at 256-692-5333. Please be sure also to review our pleased client testimonials.