One of the reasons divorces are often so difficult is because they generally require a couple to compromise on important issues. Sometimes a couple will be unable to come to a mutual compromise, so a judge will have to make a decision for them. It is very possible that a judge's decision will be more advantageous to one spouse than the other. If one spouse feels strongly that a judge's verdict is unfair, the spouse can appeal the judgment.
Appealing a judgment
An appeal is simply the process of challenging a legal judgment. If a spouse decides to challenge a judge's decision, they will appeal to a higher court known as an appeals or appellate court. The appellate court will have the power to overturn a judge's verdict, even though it is somewhat uncommon for them to do so.
Once a spouse has decided to appeal, the counsels for each spouse will submit what is known as a brief to the appeals court. A brief is essentially just the written argument against the previous judge's contested decision. It will generally contain supporting evidence for the appeal in addition to similar cases, statutes and judgments. The goal of this is to prove to the appeals court that the judge's decision constitutes an incorrect application of the law. If a law was incorrectly applied, the ruling can be altered.
It is important to note that a settlement generally cannot be appealed if both spouses agreed to the settlement. Once terms have been decided upon by both parties, they are usually set for good. However, a spouse can appeal to a court to modify a judgment regarding an agreed-upon settlement.
Modifying a judgment
Requests to modify a particular judgment of a divorce (child support, visitation, alimony, etc.) are usually made while in appellate court. This is done by putting forth a motion to modify, which generally takes place in the same court in which the original divorce judgment was made.
Appeals can quickly become very complicated affairs. They usually have very specific requirements and deadlines that must be met for the appeal to move forward. If you find yourself in a situation in which you believe yourself to be justified in appealing a divorce judgment, if it highly recommended that you seek out the services of an experienced legal professional who is familiar and practiced in these types of cases. Their expertise will greatly benefit you as you move through the legal process.