A divorce trial takes a significant financial and emotional toll on the spouses. In the end, the trial court’s decision did not meet your expectations despite your best efforts. You want to appeal your divorce but are wondering about the chances of winning a divorce appeal in Texas.
The chances of winning a divorce appeal depend on several case-specific factors. Most importantly, you must make a solid legal argument that the trial court judge made a significant error. You must also comply with Texas rules and strict timelines for filing an appeal. Your appeal will be dismissed if you don’t adhere to these rules and deadlines.
Individuals considering filing a divorce appeal should not try to figure it out alone. An experienced Texas divorce lawyer at The Larson Law Office can help you understand your chances of succeeding in a divorce appeal.
What Can I Appeal?
Generally, you can only appeal your final divorce decree or other final order in a family law case. A final divorce decree officially ends your marriage. Your divorce decree contains all the decisions a judge makes about your divorce, like asset division and child custody. If you go to trial, a judge issues a final divorce decree after concluding the trial.
During the divorce, the judge may have made several decisions that you or your lawyer think are wrong. The judge may have made a temporary custody arrangement you disagree with or issued a temporary order for spousal support. These temporary orders are called interlocutory orders. Texas law generally doesn’t allow you to appeal interlocutory orders in a divorce.
What Is a Strong Legal Basis for a Divorce Appeal?
If you’d like to know how to win a divorce appeal, you must understand that the appeals court gives a lot of deference to the trial court judge. If you are unhappy that perhaps the judge believed your ex-spouse more than you, this is likely not the basis for a winning appeal.
You need a solid legal argument for your appeal. You can’t just appeal a decision because you don’t like it. The appellate court only reviews a case to see if the trial judge abused their discretion or if there was not sufficient evidence to support the trial judge’s decision.
Under the abuse of discretion standard, you must show that the judge acted arbitrarily or unreasonably. An example of an abuse of discretion is if the judge made a decision that completely contradicted the law.
You also have a high bar to meet to prove that the court didn’t have sufficient evidence to support its decision. Suppose the judge believed one of the witnesses more than another. Thus, the evidence presented could reasonably support a decision for or against you. In this case, sufficient evidence supports the judge’s decision—even if you strenuously disagree with what the witness said or the result. However, if the judge considered evidence that wasn’t on the record, you might be able to show that the decision lacked sufficient evidence.
What Are the Appellate Rules and Deadlines?
No matter how strong your argument is, you’ll lose if you don’t obey the strict appellate procedures. Deadlines come fast in a divorce appeal.
You have 30 days from the date the judge issues the final divorce decree to file a notice of appeal. Then, after the trial court sends the record of the proceeding to the appellate court, you have 30 days to file your appellate brief.
Generally, you can’t raise any new evidence in an appeal. You also can’t introduce any new legal issues you didn’t raise at trial. This is one of the reasons why you should have an experienced Houston divorce attorney handle your divorce trial—because mistakes can be permanent. If you fail to object to an issue because you didn’t know you should, you might permanently waive your right to have that issue re-examined.
You have the option to request an oral argument in front of the appellate court, which could sway a judge. However, if the appellate court judges believe they can decide the case on the record and briefs, you may not get a chance to argue your appeal in person.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney About an Appeal
We believe that your chances of winning a divorce appeal in Texas increase if you have a competent family law appellate attorney. That’s why The Larson Law Office is here to help. With our extensive experience handling divorce cases, we can help you win your divorce appeal. Contact us today for a free consultation.