Learn How to Proceed With Your Divorce Appeal in New Jersey
Family Lawyers Assisting Clients with the Process of Appealing a Divorce in Ocean and Monmouth County
Now you are divorced, finally, after waiting for several arduous months. But you are unsettled. Something isn’t right, and you feel unsatisfied. Fortunately for you, the New Jersey courts allow you to revisit your concerns by allowing you to file a motion to appeal your divorce. A divorce appeal is a filing by you (the appellant) asking the appellate court to review your divorce decision against the person from whom you are divorced (the appellee) because the original court made an erroneous decision. And yet, the appeal process can be onerous and time-consuming, with a series of factors that should be considered whose impact can be critical to the outcome of your case.
Our experienced team of family lawyers at Bronzino Law Firm will guide you through the entire process of appealing your divorce. You can rely on our knowledge and dedication to handling your case with the attention and skill it deserves. Our divorce attorneys have successfully navigated numerous appeals for clients in Toms River, Brick, Holmdel, Ship Bottom, Bay Head, Red Bank, Ocean Township, Berkeley, Point Pleasant, and neighboring communities. Our legal team is well-versed in the law and equipped to provide solid representation and guidance on a variety of family law appeal-related issues. Contact our office at (732) 812-3102 or fill out the online contact form to protect your rights throughout the appeal process, consider your grounds for an appeal, and assemble a compelling case for the outcome you seek.
Divorce Appeals in New Jersey
A divorce appeal does not revisit the judge’s factual conclusions. There is no testimony, nor are there witnesses. Still, the Appellate Division focuses on the lawyers’ arguments and analyzes if the initial judge made an error that affected the trial’s outcome. If something is incorrect, the case will be sent to the judge in family court, and the error will be rectified. Keep in mind that 74% of all appellate divorce cases are lost.
It is essential to know that the appellate process is very long. It can take anywhere from one to two years and is costly. For that reason, exes sometimes threaten to appeal a divorce decision to force their ex into a different settlement, using a threat of appeal as a strong-arm tactic. For example, if the husband is supposed to pay $1,200 a month for alimony and suggests that $800 is a more reasonable figure unless they want to go back to court on an appeal, his wife can neither afford nor fathom. She acquiesces to end the physical and emotional stress, and the appeal is set aside.
Steps in the Appellate Process
The appellate process is complicated and nearly impossible to complete without legal representation.
First, you need to file a notice of appeal. This is to inform your ex, the trial court, and the court reporter that an appeal will be filed. Attached you will explain the issues you are appealing to and why you think the court made an unfair decision. Second, when the notice of appeal is filed, the appellant must pay $200 for the notice and an additional $300 in court costs for the appeal itself, which must be paid within 30 days of the notice.
Next, you must file a Civil Appeal Case Information Statement. This document includes information about the previous trial, biographical information about the participating lawyers, and the points to be broached in the appeal. The appellant is required to supply a summary of facts from the trial.
Another form is then filed that acknowledges that the transcripts from the trial have been requested. A court reporter will charge anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500 for a regular divorce case to be transcribed, and they usually ask half of the fee upfront. Once the transcription is complete, you have ten days to send three copies to the Appellate Division and one to the appellee.
The next step is the most complex and challenging. It is vital to have a divorce lawyer who is experienced and familiar with the requirements and structure of this document. It is called a brief, and it is a written document that lists the arguments and legal support for them. Usually, there is a period of 45 days from having received the transcript to having to turn it into the Appellate Division. It includes all papers, evidence, transcripts, and everything regarding the first trial. It is organized and bound. Seven copies are required: three and the original for the Appellate Division, two for the appellee, and two for the appellant and lawyer.
The last part is the oral argument. Each side is allowed no more than 30 minutes, and witnesses cannot be called. What wins your case is not the oral argument as much as an adequately composed brief.
What is the Appellate Court?
In a trial court, there is live testimony or new evidence, and each side makes an oral argument. It is akin to telling a story from beginning to end. Appellate Court is where only the parts of the story that are wrong are decided upon. The Appellate Court will overturn the trial court’s decision if there was a decision made without evidence or if the decision was illegal. Obtaining a judgment of this kind is very difficult, but not unheard of.
Difference Between a Divorce Appeal and a Divorce Modification
No, they are not the same. A modification can be filed for child custody, spousal support, child support by filing a formal request with the court explaining the circumstances. Also, you and your ex can agree to specific changes in your divorce settlement without going to court. If you do this, you can amend the divorce decree, sign it, and submit it to family court.
Grounds For A Divorce Appeal in NJ
The grounds for a divorce appeal are when the judge abuses their discretion, does not conduct a plenary hearing to resolve material issues in dispute, misapplies the law, or makes preliminary findings of fact. The appeal must be based on the court’s legal error, not on a fact during the trial (such as a spouse’s earnings or assets). Just because you disagree with the amount of spousal support decided on by the judge or the parenting plan because it seems unfair, you do not have grounds for an appeal. However, you do, have the option of requesting a modification in family court. An appeal is a mechanism used to call out a court’s legal mistake during the proceedings that tainted the results.
How Long Do You Have to File An Appeal and How Long Does It Take?
You have 45 days from the marriage decree to file for an appeal. A divorce appeal usually takes 30 to 90 days once everything has been submitted.
Divorce Appeal Cost in New Jersey?
Several areas determine the cost of a divorce appeal. There is no such thing as an average appeal, and prices vary from state to state. The fees depend on how long the process is in litigation, the quantity of issues in the appeal, how complex the problems are, and the rate charged by the lawyer. Additionally, court fees, copies, and transcription add to the bill as well. Overall, the estimated cost of a divorce appeal must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the unique facts, circumstances, and happenings throughout the process.
What Can We Learn From Rolnick vs. Rolnick?
Christine Rolnick filed an appeal of her divorce against her husband, Jerome Rolnick. There were several points to cover, but they all regarded spousal support. Christine claimed her husband’s alimony was calculated based on his new wife’s business loss while his cardiology practice was going gangbusters. She said the judge did not consider the apparent fraud and mishandling of her ex’s documents, such as tax returns, to alter the amount of her spousal support. Jerome said his wife’s new income from another business should not be included in the calculation of spousal support. In other words, when she was losing money, he wanted it, but when she was making money, he didn’t. The Appellate Court said they would send the decision back to trial court based on the following: (a) the trial court should have focused more on the missing financial information from the defendant and flimsy records he was keeping. (b) the court should investigate further and determine if fraud was committed, its motives, and to what extent. (c) the court should appoint a fiscal agent to assist the court in inspecting books and records regarding the defendant’s assets and expenditures, whose costs will be paid by the defendant. (d) The defendant should pay for the plaintiff’s costs from the first trial and the second.
Here we can see that the Appellate Court found cause because the judge was lax in their diligence of the investigation and observation of the defendant’s financial information (or lack thereof).
Elements to Consider Before Appealing Your Divorce in NJ
One of the most apparent elements is financial. As stated earlier, a divorce appeal is exorbitantly expensive and twice as complicated. If you miss any deadlines for court fees or filings, you will have to start from scratch. Secondly, consider what is driving the appeal? Are you upset about the result of your divorce settlement, or is it that you feel there were legal mistakes made? Remember, the Appellate Court’s job is to assess what happened in court and whether it was correct. If you focus on child visitation or alimony, those things can be modified through the courts, not appeal.
Talk to an Experienced Family Lawyer About Your Divorce Appeal in Toms River, Brick, Rumson, Middletown, and Freehold NJ
Any good lawyer worth their salt will have a very frank conversation about your motives for appeal and your expectations. It is a complicated process, and you need to be all in if you file an appeal. A great lawyer will walk you through the procedure and work hard to give you the best possible result. In addition, you need an experienced lawyer to ensure that your appeal is rock solid and every filing is complete and turned in before the deadline. A lawyer who believes in you and can stand up for you is a huge asset.
The Bronzino Law Firm has many skilled divorce lawyers who get to know their clients. Your goals become our top priority. Every decision is made with your approval, and we will answer all of your questions. We will help you every step of the way when you file your Divorce Appeal. If you need skillful advice for your potential appeal in Lacey, Manchester, Manasquan, Wall, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties, our team is here to help. We understand how stressful and emotional divorce can be, and we want to be there for you. Contact (732) 812-3102 for your free consultation today.