When people think of appeals, it’s usually in the context of a criminal matter, such as the appeal of a criminal conviction. However, appeals are also available in civil cases, such as divorce.
The trial court’s role in a divorce
Florida law permits a divorce to be granted if a marriage is irretrievably broken, which means there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. It is not necessary for both spouses to believe the marriage is irretrievably broken; rather, if one spouse believes it is, and all necessary waiting periods have elapsed, a court may grant a divorce, regardless of how the other spouse feels about the end of the marriage.
In addition to severing the legal bonds of marriage between spouses, a court may make decisions on financial matters and property division, if the couple cannot come to an agreement themselves. A judge can decide who gets the marital home, how assets such as retirement funds are split, or how marital debts are divided.
A divorce may not be appealed because one spouse does not wish to be divorced. However, if a spouse feels that the judge’s decisions on the divorce terms were wrong, a divorce can be appealed.
A divorce appeal is not a “do over”
If you decide to appeal your divorce, you must act fast. An appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date the divorce decree is filed with the lower court.
Before rushing to appeal your divorce, speaking with a divorce attorney is recommended. An appeal does not mean you have a chance to redo your entire divorce. An appeals court will simply review the trial judge’s decision to determine if the judge applied the law wrong or abused their discretion.
Therefore, if you want to appeal because you didn’t think the outcome was fair, without evidence of an incorrect application of law or abuse of discretion, your appeal may not be successful.
Even if you maintain an amicable relationship with your spouse through the divorce process, change is hard. Having a thorough understanding of your chance of success on a divorce appeal is important before deciding on next steps.