The Basics of Michigan Divorce Appeal

When it comes to Michigan divorce, the process can become contentious.  With emotions running high, parties may have difficulty coming to an agreement that both can live with.  While Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that the division of assets must be “fair and equitable”, the court has the ultimate say, and this may not sit well with one or both parties.

Once the judge has ruled in a divorce settlement and entered the final judgment, both parties will be required to abide by the decision.  However, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you do have an option for recourse.  You can try to appeal the decision for review by a higher court.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t easy to do, but if you truly feel that a legal error of some sort has been made, you can certainly try.  How do you go about appealing your Michigan divorce, and what can you expect?

Filing a Brief

Once the court has rendered a judgment in your divorce case, you can start the appeals process by filing an appellate brief.  The important thing to understand here is that, unlike other forms of legal appeals, a divorce judgment isn’t something you can relitigate.

You cannot appeal on the grounds that you didn’t get your way.  Your brief must argue that the law was applied incorrectly by the court, and that the decision is therefor invalid.  In essence, you’re saying that judge’s decision was not in keeping with the laws of the state of Michigan.

As you can imagine, most higher courts are unlikely to find fault with the ruling of a lower court, but if you feel you have a strong argument and blatant proof that a legal mistake was made, you may choose to move ahead with filing your appellate brief.  As a side note, you cannot appeal a divorce settlement that both parties (you and your ex-spouse) agreed to.

What Happens in Appeals Court?

As noted, you will not be allowed to relitigate your divorce when you appeal the judgment, so don’t think you’ll have the opportunity to present evidence or call witnesses.  What will happen is a review, in which the appellate court considers any evidence presented during the divorce to determine if a mistake of law occurred when the judge made the original ruling.

If the appellate court finds no fault with the lower court ruling, the appeal will be denied.  While you might not fully understand seeming inconsistencies with a ruling, higher courts may, especially if the lower court judge explains the choices as part of the ruling, citing reasons why he/she may have strayed from typical guidelines, for example.

Is Appealing Divorce Worth It?

Appealing a divorce judgment in Michigan can be expensive and time consuming, especially if your case involved a complex and protracted legal battle, resulting in hundreds of pages of transcripts that the appeals court must review to make a ruling.  In most cases, it’s probably not worth it, but if you feel that a significant legal mistake has been made that should invalidate the lower court decision, you can always discuss the option to appeal with your legal counsel.

If you’re interested in pursuing an appeal following your divorce, contact the experts at The Gucciardo Law Firm today at 248-723-5190 or online to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and learn more.

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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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