Common Questions Answered About the Appeals Process in Michigan

When you go through a divorce, a child custody case, or a property settlement situation, you can come out of the experience feeling a little beat up. You might just be glad the whole thing is over, even if the results are not what you hoped for.

However, you should know that lower court decisions in Michigan may be subject to reversal, and if you feel that the ruling in your case was unfair or erroneous for some reason, you are well within your rights to file an appeal. Here are answers for a few of the most commonly asked questions regarding appeals in the Michigan court system.

Am I Eligible to Appeal?
Once a Michigan court has made a ruling on your case, you cannot argue with the ruling, but you can object on certain legal grounds and file an appeal, during which your case will be reviewed by a higher court in order to make a determination about whether or not any legal errors were made by the lower court.

It’s important to understand that this is not a new trial, and you won’t be allowed to present new evidence, even if your situation has changed. Further, if both you and your spouse agreed to a settlement, such as division of property, you may not be eligible to appeal.

How Long do I Have to Decide?
You can’t wait forever to file an appeal if you disagree with a court’s ruling and think you have legal grounds for reversal. In fact, you can’t even wait a month. You must file a notice of appeal within 21 days following the court’s ruling on your case. If you miss the filing deadline, your appeal will basically be DOA, barring extreme circumstances to account for the delay.

How Does the Appeal Process Work?
If you decide to appeal a court ruling, your lawyer will need to file a brief containing a legal argument intended to convince the Court of Appeals to reverse the decision in your case, ostensibly because the lower court made a legal error. The opposing lawyer will file a brief contending that the lower court’s ruling was legally sound.

The Court of Appeals will review the court record (written transcripts) from your case, review the briefs, and perhaps allow the lawyers to make verbal statements, after which the court will issue a decision.

How Long Will an Appeal Take?
This depends on many factors, but you should prepare for months of waiting. The Court of Appeals will have to request, receive, and review the transcripts from your case and review briefs provided by both sides before rendering a decision. Gathering and reviewing all of these materials takes time.

What are the Chances of Winning an Appeal?
It’s very difficult to say. The Court of Appeals only reviews materials – it does not consider new evidence, so the lower court would have had to make an obvious error in the application or interpretation of Michigan state law in order for a reversal to result.

The experienced attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm can help you to determine whether or not pursuing an appeal is right for you. Contact us today at 248-723-5190 to discuss the possibility of an appeal.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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