What to Expect When You Appeal a Divorce in Michigan


When a divorce is finalized in court in Michigan, a judge makes their final decision by entering a judgment or order. Both parties in a divorce should adhere to what the order dictates. But sometimes, a party may not agree with the final decision of a judge and want to file an appeal at a higher court. If you are in this situation, you can learn more about what to expect from the process below:

What to Expect at the Appeals Hearing

Cases heard at the Court of Appeals in Michigan are not the same as circuit court hearings. Circuit court hearings allow you to call witnesses, present expert testimony, question witnesses, and present documents.

At a court of appeals, your case can’t be re-litigated. Thus, you cannot present witnesses you probably failed to call during your divorce hearing. Also, you cannot present new evidence or show documents. Essentially, you use the same evidence shown at the circuit court. The appeal hearing is focused on arguing that the circuit court judge did not apply state law when making their decision. 

What the Court of Appeals Will Consider

To determine if a circuit court judge committed a mistake of law, the court of appeals will review the trial court record. For instance, if one parent in a child custody case gets custody of a minor child for 315 days every year and the other parent has 50-day custody every year, the circuit court judge might order both parties to pay and get child support based on this distribution. Otherwise, you could argue this to the court of appeals.

Appealing Your Case

The appeals process is lengthy and complicated. Plus, it can also be quite expensive. A lawyer who represents you at the court of appeals must order a circuit court trial transcript, to get your case reviewed by the court of appeals. When your attorney gets a transcript, they must write a legal bridge for you. Your lawyer must research your case and mention certain statutory and case laws when they argue your case at the court of appeals. Once the court reviews your brief and the brief of the other party, your lawyer will argue your case in front of a three-judge panel. It can take months before opinions from the court of appeals are issued.

Appealing a judgment from a circuit court to the Court of Appeals in Michigan is a tough decision. To ensure you make the right decision, you must consult with a divorce lawyer who can realistically evaluate your case.   

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