Can you appeal family law decisions?

| Jun 15, 2021 | Appeals |

The idea of appealing a case to a higher court is something you probably have heard about on the news. Many appeals involve criminal cases or a lawsuit with a constitutional question. However, the appeals process also applies to family law decisions. Appellate courts in the state of Illinois may take a divorce case if a party to the case files for appeal. 

If you are considering an appeal for a family law ruling in your case, it may help you to know what it means to appeal a family law case in the state of Illinois. 

Why spouses or couples appeal

Appealing a family law case does not mean you will have a judge retry your case. Appeals involve questions of law, not the facts of your case. If your attorney did not properly represent you and it resulted in an unfavorable outcome, you may have grounds for appeal. Family law appeals can also involve mistakes or misapplications of the law made by a judge. 

Court jurisdiction can also be grounds for appeal. The complexities of family law can invite questions about when a judge should hear an appeal from a divorcing spouse. A recent case in Illinois demonstrates how complicated jurisdictional matters can be. 

Winning an appeal on jurisdiction

The recent case of re Marriage of Crecos, 2021 IL 126192 involved the question of whether a judge should have awarded attorney’s fees to the wife of a divorcing couple. Both parties agreed that the question of fees related to their divorce, so an appellate court had the jurisdiction to hear their case. But the appellate court disagreed and dismissed the appeal. 

The husband in the case appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, which overturned the appellate court’s decision. The Supreme Court agreed that the appellate court had jurisdiction and returned the case to the appellate court to conduct hearings. 

You may win on a second appeal

This situation demonstrates that different state courts may not agree on how to handle family law matters. So if you appeal and lose in appellate court, you might still win if you appeal to the state Supreme Court. The appeals process may take time, so do not expect a quick resolution if you choose to go down this route.