It may seem difficult to believe, but sometimes the court gets it wrong in a Colorado family law case. Judges are not infallible, so they are not above errors when it comes to decisions in divorce cases or proceeding on child custody and support. Still, these mistakes can have a profound impact on your rights, financial interests, and relationship with your child.
Understandably, you will want to rectify the situation, and filing an appeal may be appropriate for your situation. The appellate process is extremely complex for Colorado family law cases, which is why many people in your position do not know where to begin.
When this happens, you need an experienced attorney who understands the complex appellate process and will give you the best shot at overturning your order. There are instances when judges make mistakes and your order needs to be corrected. It is important to consult with an experienced Colorado appeals attorney to identify whether those errors exist and whether you can appeal your order.
Our appeals in Colorado family law team at Pomper Price, LLC is ready to assist with your remedies, so please contact our Denver office to set up a consultation. Some information on appellate proceedings may also be helpful.
Overview of Appeals in Colorado Family Law Cases
When parties go through a contested hearing in a divorce or custody matter, someone will not be happy with the result. If this outcome is the result of a mistake by the judge, a party who is adversely affected can request that another court review it through the appeals process.
However, not all orders can be appealed and disappointment alone is not sufficient to support an appellate case. You must establish that the trial court abused its discretion or made a finding that runs contrary to Colorado law. Because family law judges have considerable discretion in rendering decisions, this can be a challenging standard. Generally, grounds for appeal include:
- A lack of evidence to support the court’s decision
- Mistakes in allowing inadmissible evidence
- Misapplication of procedural rules
- Misinterpretation of the law
Family Court Orders That May Be Appealed
After a judge issues a final order regarding a dispute in a divorce or case involving children, it is subject to appeal. In addition, certain interim orders can be appealed when they affect the parties’ interests before a final hearing. Note that the appellate process is not a retrial of the facts, so there will be no new evidence or testimony.
The specific issues you can take to the appellate level include:
- Property Division: There are two aspects of asset division that parties to a divorce may seek to appeal, the first of which involves whether property is marital or separate. You can also ask an appellate court to review the trial judge’s decision on equitable distribution of marital property.
- Sole v. Joint Custody: Colorado now applies the concept of parental responsibilities to refer to custody, meaning how parents allocate decision-making authority. Courts prefer a situation where parents share in allocation of parental responsibilities, but the most important factor is the child’s best interests. If you believe the trial court abused its authority in deciding sole versus joint custody, filing an appeal may be a wise option.
- Visitation and Parenting Plans: Even when parents share joint custody, it is likely that the child will primarily reside with one party; the nonresidential parent can exercise parenting time, familiarly known as visitation. The specifics become part of the parenting plan in a divorce or child custody case, but a judge may err by imposing visitation conditions that do not meet the child’s best interests.
- Child Support: Colorado’s laws on child support obligations and statutory child support guidelines are relatively straightforward, but the court is empowered to use discretion to increase or decrease the amount. Misapplication of the child’s best interests standard for child support may be grounds for appeal.
- Spousal Maintenance: Spousal maintenance is a two-part analysis, which means there are two opportunities for a judge to make an appealable error. First, a party must meet certain criteria to qualify for maintenance. Generally, a spouse may be eligible if there are significant financial disparities between the parties, or where one gave up educational or employment opportunities to contribute to the household.
Also, a court must review certain factors when deciding on the amount and duration of spousal maintenance. They include financial resources, lifestyle during the marriage, each party’s income, asset division, duration of the marriage, and many others.
- Relocation: Colorado law anticipates that a parent with primary residential custody may need to move for a job, family, or personal reasons. When relocation goes to a hearing, the child’s best interests are also a focus. Misapplication of the statutory factors can affect your relationship with your child if distance prevents or limits parenting time.
- Modifications: Almost every order in a Colorado family law case is subject to change, and a party seeking modification must meet certain legal standards to obtain relief.
Why You Need Experienced Legal Counsel for Appeals
Aside from understanding when you can seek review and what family law orders can be appealed, one of the most important issues is timing. Appeals deadlines are very strict, and you could harm your rights if you do not take action within the relevant time periods. You must appeal an order entered by a magistrate within 14 days thereafter, while you have 49 days for a district court order.
Our team at Pomper Price, LLC will file the essential documents, including the notice of appeal to initiate the appellate process. Our Colorado appeals attorneys will follow up with other key tasks, including preparing appellate briefs and oral arguments before the appeals court.
We will seek an appropriate action through the appeals court, which may include one or more of the following:
- Reversing the decision of the trial court and the order is vacated
- Remanding, in which the appeals court sends the case back to the trial judge
- Affirming the trial court, which is typically your objective when you oppose the appeal and want the trial court decision to stand
Get in Touch with a Colorado Appeals Lawyer Right Away
The appellate process is not something to be taken lightly. It is extremely complicated and the rules are very strict. You cannot appeal an order simply because you don’t like it or think that it’s fair. Keep in mind, the family court has broad authority over many aspects of your case, meaning that unless there has been an “abuse of discretion,” the order will stand.
The attorneys at Pomper Price, LLC have successfully appealed numerous rulings and court orders. Given the strict deadlines to file an appeal, you must get in contact as soon as possible if you believe that an appeal may be warranted in your case.
If you need assistance appealing a family law case in Colorado, please call 720-780-8288 or contact us through our online form. We can schedule an initial consultation today to discuss how we can help you appeal your order. Our main office serves the greater Denver area, but we also maintain several satellite offices to assist clients from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs. We can also accommodate virtual conversations to suit your needs.