What is Involved in Appealing the Outcome in a Divorce

October 16, 2023  |  Jason C. Brown

While the vast majority of marital dissolution actions are resolved through agreement of the parties, some cases require a trial. After trial, the judge assigned to your case will issue their Findings of Fact, Conclusion of Law, Order for Judgment, and Judgment and Decree. But what happens if you aren’t in agreement with the findings? Keep reading to find out what is involved in appealing the outcome of a divorce.

What Can You Do if You Find Yourself at Odds with the Decision of the Court?

A litigant may file number of post-trial motions, such as a motion for amended findings or a motion for a new trial. However, the most common step involves filing a motion with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Every litigant has the right to file an appeal if they are dissatisfied with a district court order.

The appellate process begins by serving and filing a Notice of Appeal with the district court and providing proof of doing so to the appellate court. That simple document provides the relevant case caption, names of the litigants, and names of the attorneys responsible for handling the case.

In addition to the Notice of Appeal, a Statement of the Case must be submitted to the appellate court administrator. These instructions outline, in short form, the issues on appeal, the arguments made to the district court, and whether the appellant seeks to formally brief the matter and appear for oral argument.

Next Steps

Once the Notice and Statement are filed, the court of appeals will assign a case file number and direct the parties to participate in mediation. The mediation requirement is unique to family court cases. Despite ongoing acrimony, family appellate mediation is successful about 50 percent of the time.

If matters to not resolve in mediation, the court of appeals orders transmission of the entire record from the district court and issues a briefing schedule. Appellate briefs usually includes a table of contents, table of authorities, statement of the issues, statement of the facts, and legal argument. Citation to various legal authority, whether caselaw or statutes, is required.

Appellate Timelines

The appellant files their brief first. The respondent has 30 days from the date of the appellant’s submission to file a response. Then, the appellant may submit a reply brief within 14 days of the respondent’s response.

After briefs are filed, the lawyers appear for an oral argument at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul. A three-judge panel will listen to the presentation of each side and ask questions along the way. Each side then argues its case.

Once the arguments have concluded, the court of appeals has 90 days to issue a written decision. The court will either affirm, reverse, or remand to the district court for further findings.

If a litigant is still dissatisfied with the outcome, either side has the option of asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the case. Unlike the court of appeals, the high court chooses which cases it hears.

We Are Here to Help

The process for marital dissolution can be complicated and confusing, especially when it involves an appeal. If you need assistance through the divorce process or have questions about what is involved in appealing the outcome of a divorce, we can help. Contact the team at Barna, Guzy & Steffen today.