The fact that a final divorce decision has been issued in a particular case does not necessarily mean that the matter is over. It is possible to appeal a divorce order in Arizona. A disputed family law case that goes to trial and has a final judgment or ruling issued by a judge or jury has a right of appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Can you appeal a divorce decree?
A divorce decree (also known as a “judgment of divorce”) is the judge’s final order in your divorce, and it becomes final after the judge signs it. Your marital settlement agreement is frequently integrated into or mentioned in the final decree if you and your spouse resolved your disputes outside of court.
A standard divorce order specifies each spouse’s rights and responsibilities in the following areas:
- child custody (with visitation rights)
- child support
- property distribution
- debt distribution
- tax filing prerequisites
- alimony (spousal support), and
- retirement accounts division
A spouse who is dissatisfied with the divorce judgment’s final decision can take their case to the appellate court. However, winning an appeal of any final judgment, like a divorce decree, is difficult. Most people who want to appeal a divorce order will need to employ a competent appellate lawyer because the appeals process is technical and involves complicated problems of law and procedure.
What are divorce appeals?
Divorce appeals are legal proceedings in which the appellant (or plaintiff) approaches a higher court that has the authority to examine a final divorce decision on the grounds that it was made in error. Appeals are used to reverse divorce orders that are based on fraud, falsehood, incorrect application of the law, or other legal concerns.
One of the disadvantages of a divorce appeal, aside from having to pay extra lawyers’ fees, is the length of time it may take. When making a divorce appeal, don’t expect a speedy resolution. Depending on the court’s procedures and backlog, you may need to wait a year or longer for the appellate court’s final decision from the time you file.
Appeals must be submitted within 30 days of the divorce decree’s finalization.
In some cases, appeals can lead to a new divorce trial.
Discretionary Review by the Arizona Supreme Court
Following the Court of Appeals’ final decision, the plaintiff may petition the Supreme Court of Arizona for discretionary review. Though granting such reviews are rare, they are possible and should not be overlooked simply because the odds are stacked against you. Rule 23 of The Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure (ARCAP)
Divorce Issues That are Appealable
What issues can be appealed in a divorce? Consider these two scenarios. It is possible to appeal a judge’s decision on a motion, such as an order to pay temporary alimony payment during divorce proceedings. Another example of an appealable judgment is the partition of community property in a decree based on a finding that one spouse had squandered marital assets.
Who may appeal?
ARCAP’s Rule 1 states:
“Any party aggrieved by a judgment may appeal as provided under Arizona law and by these Rules.”
Thus, the wronged spouse has the right to appeal the decision. After the other party has started the appeal procedure, an aggrieved spouse may submit a counter-appeal.
How long does the appeal process take?
The appeals procedure might be lengthy, taking weeks or even months before your case is heard by an appellate court (dependent on its caseload). Successful appeals can take a long time compared to unsuccessful appeals.
When contemplating appeals (and how long they can take), it’s important to decide if you want to continue to prolong your divorce, as appeals can drag out divorce proceedings for months or even years.
Do I need a lawyer to help me with an appeal?
Appealing a divorce decree in AZ can be complicated and demanding. Having an experienced lawyer on your side to prepare your appeal, file it, and represent you in court might be critical to the outcome of your case – and your post-divorce life.
If you have more questions about appealing a divorce order in Arizona, or any other Arizona family law issue, should contact the lawyers at Goldman Law, LLC.
Call (602) 833-1162 or use our contact form to arrange a personalized consultation with one of our attorneys.