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Kane County Divorce Appeals Lawyer

Kane County Divorce Appeal Lawyers

Attorneys Explain How to Appeal Family Law Court Rulings in Geneva and St. Charles

After living through the process of a divorce, most people are simply glad to have it all over with. But what can you do if you believe the court erred in making a particular decision? You may have grounds to appeal a family court ruling.

The attorneys of Weiler & Lengle P.C. can advise you about your chances of winning an appeal and represent you in the appeals process. We may also recommend other approaches to obtain the outcome you desire. Whatever your situation, we will listen to your concerns and provide you with sound legal counsel based on our decades of experience in divorce and family law.

What Are My Rights to Appeal an Illinois Divorce Court Decision?

Per Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/413, you have the right to appeal any court decision incorporated into your final divorce decree. For example, the court may have made a ruling in regard to your division of property, allocation of parenting responsibilities, child support payments, or maintenance (spousal support) payments. You can also appeal any post-decree court orders, such as a decision on child relocation or removal.

For residents of Kane County, divorce and family law cases are handled by the Family Division of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court located in St. Charles, Illinois. Any appeal must be made to the Illinois Appellate Court-Second District. From there, your last resort would be an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

What Is Necessary to Win an Appeal of a Family Court Decision?

It is relatively difficult to win an appeal of a family court decision in Illinois. However, each case must be considered on its unique merits. As experienced divorce attorneys, Weiler & Lengle P.C. can review your case and advise you regarding your options for appealing a particular court ruling.

First, you must have valid legal grounds for your appeal. It is relatively rare to have grounds to appeal an Illinois divorce settlement because most decisions are made by the parties themselves through negotiation, not made by a judge. Further, you cannot appeal a ruling such as an allocation judgment of parental responsibilities just because you think it is unfair to you. Rather, the court must have made some type of legal error in its ruling.

Second, you have just 30 days after a court ruling to file a Notice of Appeal. While your appeal is pending, you must abide by all existing court orders, including the payment of maintenance and child support.

Third, you must present strong arguments to convince the appellate court to overrule the family court, which the appellate courts are often reluctant to do. Many cases are decided based on the best interests of the child, and the family court is considered to have the best insight into the situation. In general, the appellate court will overrule only if it finds that the lower court's decision was against "the manifest weight of the evidence," meaning that the lower court's decision was unreasonable or arbitrary based on the evidence presented.

Here is an example that illustrates the difficulty of appealing a family court ruling involving a child. At the time of the divorce, both parents of a minor child decided to maintain residences in the same area. The parental allocation judgment provided for joint decision-making and shared physical care (joint custody). Later, the mother petitioned the court to relocate with the child to another state far away to pursue an advanced degree and her dream job. The father argued that his child's relocation would unreasonably reduce his parenting time and impose too great a financial burden on him. The circuit court decided that it was in the best interests of the child to relocate with the mother. The father appealed the decision, arguing that the circuit court had placed too much weight on the benefits the move would have for the mother and not enough weight on the negative effects on the child-father relationship. Ultimately, the appellate court upheld the circuit court's decision.

That said, there are numerous cases in which a family court ruling has been overturned on appeal. If you have a strong factual basis for your appeal, it may well be worth pursuing. For example, in one Illinois case, a party made a down payment on a home with non-marital funds but then used marital funds to make mortgage payments. The circuit court originally classified the home as non-marital property, but the appellate court reversed that ruling, substantially altering the division of property in the divorce settlement.

What Are the Alternatives to Appealing a Divorce Court Decision?

One option is to wait a few months and then petition the court for a modification of the existing court order. For example, suppose you discover that your ex received a 20 percent pay raise right after the court approved the final order for child support. This could qualify as a substantial change in circumstances which would merit a change in child support payments.

St. Charles Divorce Lawyers Handling Appeals of Family Court Decisions

If you believe that a family court decision was unjust and want to appeal it, the experienced divorce lawyers at Weiler & Lengle P.C. can review the facts and advise you regarding your options. Contact us at 630-382-8050. We serve clients in St. Charles, Geneva, and neighboring communities in Kane County.

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