This is a question that we are asked frequently by clients. Unfortunately, when a judge is the one who makes the decisions in a divorce case, one party is often left unhappy with the results.
The good news is that it is possible to appeal your divorce decree, but the bad news is that it is not always an easy thing to do.
In order to appeal a divorce decree in Alabama, the first step is to meet with a divorce lawyer who has appeal experience. Since appeals are somewhat rare, not all family law attorneys have experience with them, which is why it is so important to make sure the lawyer you work with does.
Next, with the help of your lawyer, you need to file a Rule 59 Motion with the court asking the judge to alter, amend or vacate the ruling in your divorce case. Because this motion must be filed within a certain timeframe and must contain specific things, it’s crucial to work with a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing.
When an appeal is granted, it is usually heard by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. In rare cases, a divorce appeal may next end up being heard by the Alabama Supreme Court, which has final say over the matter.
Typically, issues that the appeals court weigh in divorce cases involve questions of the law, not questions of fact. The appeals court assumes that the trial court has made decisions on an issue of fact correctly, unless there was an abuse of discretion.
Ultimately, it almost always takes a trained attorney to determine whether there are issues in your divorce case that warrant an appeal, which means that it is usually not possible to file an appeal just because you are unhappy with the judge’s decision.
An experienced attorney can go over the facts of your case to help you determine if an appeal may be possible and, if so, the next steps to take.