Appealing a Divorce Judgment
Florida law guarantees residents the right to appeal certain court rulings, whether criminal or civil, including final divorce judgments. There are, however, limitations to these appeals, so if you believe that you may need to appeal a divorce order, or are intending to seek an appeal, it is important to consult with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney who can help you understand the specific rules involved in the appellate process.
Who Can File an Appeal?
There are a few different reasons to appeal a divorce judgment in Florida. If a person has newly discovered evidence, for example, that existed at the time of the original ruling, but was concealed and that could have changed the terms of a divorce, he or she would have standing to file an appeal. Fraud, concealment, and an error of law are also considered grounds for the appeal of a divorce order if the plaintiff has clear evidence and a sound legal argument to support his or her claims. It’s important to note, however, that appellants will be limited to using the evidence that was previously presented in the original trial and will be barred from introducing any new evidence or testimony.
Initiating an Appeal
Those who have decided to appeal a divorce decree can initiate their proceedings in a number of different ways. A person can, for example, file a Notice of Exception to the Report and Recommendation of a General Magistrate, which applies in situations where:
- A case was heard before a General Magistrate and not a judge;
- The appellant has proper grounds for an appeal; and
- The appellant files an objection within ten days of the ruling.
When these requirements have been fulfilled, a circuit judge will review the transcript from the trial, as well as the objection, to determine whether the General Magistrate’s ruling is proper. Alternatively, a person could also file a Motion for Rehearing, in which the appellant asks the circuit judge who issued the initial ruling, to review the decision. Once this step has been taken and a circuit judge has either confirmed its prior ruling or refused to hear the case, an appellant can file a formal appeal with one of five District Court of Appeals by submitting a notice of appeal to the trial court within 30 days of the divorce decree, after which, he or she will need to:
- Direct the clerk of court to provide a copy of the official record of the divorce proceedings to the District Court;
- Direct the court reporter to prepare and submit a copy of the transcript of the trial proceedings within ten days of filing the notice of appeal; and
- Work with an attorney to prepare an initial appellate brief.
Once the court hears the evidence and the parties’ oral arguments, it will determine whether the lower court failed to determine the correct facts, or incorrectly applied the law to those facts. It can then affirm the lower court’s ruling, overturn it, or remand it back to the trial court for a new determination.
Hiring an Attorney to Appeal Your Divorce Judgment
If you are considering appealing your divorce order, please call 954-945-7591 to discuss your case with experienced divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today.