How Do You Modify or Appeal the Court’s Divorce or Child Custody Decision?

So you’ve gotten a bad result. What do you do? How do you modify or appeal the court’s decision? First off, you have to think about where you are in the process. Is this a final order that you can appeal or file a motion to modify? In Colorado you must have a final order before you can file a motion for post-trial relief or file an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

In addition, was your case heard by a magistrate or by a district court judge?  If your divorce or child custody case was heard by a magistrate, then you can file a petition asking the district court judge to review the magistrate’s decision.  If your case was decided by a district court judge, you can file a motion to modify the Court’s decision.  Furthermore, you can also file a notice of appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court.

Your steps to do is to obtain a copy of the transcript of your hearing. A transcript will be needed if you do decide to file a Petition for District Court review or an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.  A transcript is also very helpful if you decide to file a motion for post-trial relief.  A transcript will help your family law attorney evaluate the evidence that was introduced and the testimony of the witnesses. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you forget what was said or what evidence was presented. I always recommend that clients order a copy of the transcript of the hearing so they can read through it and evaluate what happened.

After reviewing the transcript, consider whether the judge’s decision was based upon a disputed issue of fact? In other words, was there a fact that was in dispute and the judge made an erroneous decision based upon the factual evidence? In that situation you want to think about how you presented your evidence and the facts supporting your case.  What facts should have been presented to the judge? Did the facts and evidence support the ruling by the court?  In other words, did the judge make the best decision based upon the facts that were presented to the court?

Quite frankly, factual decisions by a judge are very difficult to overturn on appeal.  However, did the judge erroneously apply the law to the facts and evidence presented?   This may be an error that the appellate court can review all over again. If the judge made a mistake in applying the law to your evidence, then you have a better chance of winning your motion or appeal.

Another thing you can do is file a motion to correct clerical errors. Occasionally, the Court will make clerical errors. Perhaps there was a typo or did not make the correct decision that was clearly in error.  In that case, contact the court and ask the judge to consider changing the court’s order.

Finally, If you believe that you got a bad result, it is important that you act immediately. There are strict deadlines for filing a motion or appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals. If you are unhappy with the divorce or child custody decision, then you need to act very quickly, or you may let the time run for you to do something to address the error that’s occurred.  Therefore, it is important to contact the experienced family law attorneys at Lewis & Matthews, P.C. as soon as possible.

Call (303) 329-3802 to schedule a consultation today.