Sometimes, even with the best preparation you can lose your family law case. You may have gotten an unfavorable property division decision, or you may feel the judge made a mistake in setting the amount of the spousal maintenance or there may be some other problem. After the court has issued a final ruling, you may need to file an appeal to keep your case alive.
What You Can Appeal
In most cases, you can only file an appeal of a final judgment or order. You are not able to file an appeal every time the judge makes a decision during the case that goes against you. You also cannot file an appeal based solely on your disapproval of the outcome.
You can file appeal when you believe the judge made a legal mistake. Examples of legal mistakes include:
- Applying the law to the facts incorrectly
- Misinterpreting the law
- Allowing in evidence that should have been excluded
- Excluding evidence that should have been allowed
The Appeals Process
You typically only have 30 days after the final judgment or order in your case is entered to file a notice of appeal. The notice of appeal is a legal document that informs the court, the other party or parties, and the Appellate Court that you intend to appeal the judge’s decision.
When you file the appeal, you are considered the appellant in the case. The other side is the appellee. The appellant has the duty to provide the complete court file to the court of appeals and to file the first brief, or argument, in the case.
The same court that heard your original case will not hear the appeal. The appeal will first be filed and argued before the Appellate Court of the State of Illinois. Here, most of the case will be argued on paper, with no witnesses or additional testimony. Depending upon the circumstances, the court may want to hear oral argument from the lawyers in the case.
The side that loses at the Appellate Court level can ask the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case. That process works much the same way as the Appellate Court process.
When you appeal your case, there are several possible outcomes. The court could deny your appeal and leave the judge’s decision alone. This is known as affirming the decision. The court could reverse the judge’s decision and issue a new order. The court could also vacate the judge’s decision and order the judge to reconsider the case with new instructions and send the case back to the lower court.
If you have questions about appealing your family case, contact an experienced and skilled Orland Park family law attorney. We will review your case and help you understand your available options in continuing to pursue a favorable outcome. Call 708-518-8200 today to schedule a consultation.