If you and your husband or wife have a history of disagreeing, you may not be able to reach a divorce settlement that is acceptable to each of you. With a contested divorce, you ask a judge to weigh in on the division of marital assets, spousal support, child custody, child support or other divorce-related matters.
Because you may not be able to predict what a judge may do, contesting a divorce always has some risk. Still, if you disagree with the judge’s decision, you likely have a right to appeal it. With an appeal, you ask a higher court to look at the record and determine if the trial judge made some legal or factual error.
Grounds for your appeal
Many Washingtonians believe simply disliking a judge’s order is sufficient for filing an appeal. Regrettably, this is not the case. To support your appeal, you must argue one or both of the following:
- The judge considered irrelevant facts, misunderstood the facts or refused to hear material facts.
- The judge misapplied the law when making his or her decision.
While most permanent orders in family law cases are appealable, you may also be able to appeal a temporary order or a judicial action that occurs during your divorce proceedings. Because the appellate procedure is incredibly complex, you may need legal counsel to determine whether you have grounds to file a nonfrivolous appeal.
A strict time frame
Finality is a basic tenet of American jurisprudence, so you do not have forever to appeal your divorce order. In Washington, you likely must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the order. The same may be true for temporary errors.
Ultimately, if you have grounds to support your appeal, acting quickly to ask an appellate court to hear the matter may boost your odds of securing the outcome you want.