Are you considering appealing your divorce judgment? You may wonder if it’s worth it. What are the chances of winning a divorce appeal? Our Greenville family law attorneys explain.
About 50% of divorce appeals are successful. Your chances of winning a divorce appeal depend on what the issues are in the case and how well they are recorded and explained during the trial.
What makes a divorce appeal successful?
To make a divorce appeal successful, you must preserve the issue correctly in the lower court. While an appeals court is more likely to defer to the trial court on factual issues, you can appeal both factual and legal issues. It’s important to follow procedural steps and meet deadlines.
1. Preserving divorce issues for appeal
An appeal begins in the trial court. Usually, you must bring up the issue at the lower court level. For example, if you object to the admission of a piece of evidence, and the court allows it in anyways, you have appropriately raised the issue in the trial court. It’s important to identify the important issues and make the right record at trial. An experienced attorney can help you during the trial so that if you need to appeal, you can be successful.
2. Understanding legal and factual issues on appeal
An issue on appeal is legal or factual. A legal mistake is where the court admits or denies evidence incorrectly or uses the wrong legal standard to decide an issue. A factual issue occurs where the judge as the finder of fact makes an incorrect judgment or decision.
The appeals court has the authority to review factual issues de novo. That means they have the authority to decide the facts. However, they also acknowledge that the trial judge has the benefit of evaluating witnesses while they testify. Generally, they assume that the trial judge is in a better position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses and weigh evidence. (See Lewis v. Lewis, 709 S.E.2d 650 (2011)). You can win a factual divorce appeal – In order to win, the reasons that the trial court made an error must be very clearly explained.
A trial court may make mistakes that are legal. They may admit evidence that they should not admit based on court rules. They may simply apply the wrong law to an issue. For example, they may admit documents that are hearsay and do not meet any exceptions for admissibility. They may misunderstand or refuse to apply custody laws. The court applies a de novo standard to these issues. If legal errors occur during the trial, and if they are significant enough to alter the outcome, it may be possible to succeed in your divorce appeal. (See Stoney v. Stoney, 813 S.E.2d 486 (2018)).
3. Complying with procedural issues
There are court rules for how to pursue a divorce appeal. You must comply with deadlines and filing requirements. Understanding and following these important steps are a must to make your appeal a success.
Attorneys for Divorce Appeals
Are you interested in appealing your divorce? Let our experienced divorce attorneys personally assess your case and help you weigh the pros and cons. We can help you understand if your appeal is likely to be successful. Contact us today.