When Can I Appeal a Family Law Court Order?

As a Chicago family law attorney, I am often asked by clients if they can appeal a family law court order. You have a right to appeal a final decision from the family law court and you also may have a right to appeal a decision from a family law court that is not a final decision or one that is final but does not dispose of all of the issues involved.

The Process to Appeal a Family Law Court Order

Appellate Court and the Standard of Review

Was There an Abuse of Discretion by the Family Court?

The role of the appellate court in appealing a family law court order is to make sure that the trial judge’s decision was one that could have been made based upon the pleadings, evidence, and testimony. The appellate court does not determine whether it would have made the same decision. They make a determination that the decision could have been made so there is no abuse of discretion. If there is no evidence the court abused its discretion the trial court ruling will stand. This is when the appellate court affirms the trial court’s decision.

When the Family Court Abused Its Discretion

  1. remand the case back to the trial court with specific directions on what needs to be done such as further hearings on one or more issues, OR
  2. reverse the decision outright which does not require the case to go back to the trial court for further hearing.

In summary, the standard of review is the amount of deference or leeway the appellate court will give to the trial judge’s order that is on appeal.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act gives the trial court a lot of deference in making decisions since they have firsthand knowledge at the trial and can determine the credibility of the witnesses. Credibility is important in family law cases since many of the trials come down to “he-said / she-said” cases.

If the trial court enters a Judgment that states one, both or neither of the parties were credible witnesses, the appellate court weighs that very heavily. However, if the family law court order on appeal is a question of law and not deference the appellate court will review the pleadings, evidence, and testimony as though it is considering the case for the first time. This allows the appellate court to substitute its own judgment about the application of the law in the case and make its own determination. This is not often the case in family law matters but it does happen.

Thinking of Appealing a Family Law Court Order?

Talk to an Experienced Family Law Attorney Right Away

THIS ARTICLE WAS PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AT: https://illinoislawforyou.com/divorce-litigation/can-i-appeal-a-family-law-court-order/

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