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Can I appeal or change my divorce decree, or is it permanent?

Going through the divorce process is rarely, if ever, easy. While you may be able to get through it without having to fight things out in front of a judge, you may not. Sometimes litigation is necessary. In some cases, a judge gets to make some big decisions that may not sit well with you. If that happens, you may be wondering if the decree or judgment is permanent and whether you can appeal it.

The answer depends on what the problem is and how the decree is issued. It may be possible to appeal the ruling, but other options may be available to address what you feel is wrong or unfair.

Who can file an appeal?

You or your ex-spouse can file to appeal a judge's ruling. To do this, you will need to:

  • Submit the appropriate motion to an appellate court.
  • Supply a detailed complaint of the issue needing review.
  • Send in supporting documentation.

Sometimes the appellate court judges will want to hear oral arguments, and sometimes they won't. In either case, no one can submit new evidence for review. Information from the original trial is all that will be under consideration in an appeal.

When appeals do not work

Divorce appeals are uncommon. When they do occur, it takes a lot for an appellate judge to overturn another judge's decision. If the appeals process fails to produce desirable results, or if it's not practical in the first place, an alternative is to seek a modification to the divorce order.

It is possible to request modifications regarding a number of issues, including spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation. For a modification to be approved, the requesting party must provide a proof of need or change in circumstances.

No guarantees

When filing an appeal or seeking a modification, there is never a guarantee that any requested changes will receive approval. It comes down to the judge listening to the case and the reasoning for the requested changes. Every situation is different.

Fighting for a fair and balanced divorce can take time and money, and it may take more hearings than you would like. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, you can do everything necessary to seek the terms you want from the very beginning. Further assistance to seek modifications of court orders (or to appeal) is available, too.

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