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How Do You Modify or Appeal the Court’s Divorce or Child Custody Decision?

So you’ve gotten a bad result. What do you do? How do you modify or appeal the court’s decision? First off, you have to think about where you are in the process. Is this a final order that is appealable or modifiable? In Colorado you do need to have a final order in order to file a motion for post-trial relief or to consider filing an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

In addition, you have to think about whether or not you are in front of a magistrate or if you are in front of a district court judge. If you are in front of a magistrate, there is a provision where you can file a petition for a district court judge to review the magistrate’s decision. That’s an avenue for you. If you are in front of a district court judge, your only options really are to file a motion for post-trial relief or to file a notice of appeal with the Colorado Supreme Court.

One of the first steps to do is to obtain a copy of the transcript of your hearing. This is very important because it’s going to be needed if you do decide to file an appeal. It is also very helpful if you decide to file a motion for post-trial relief. Also just to evaluate the evidence that was introduced, the testimony of the witnesses. Sometimes in the heat of the moment you forget what was said or what evidence was presented. I always recommend clients to go ahead and order a copy of the transcript of the hearing so they can read through it and evaluate what happened.

Than after that you have to ask yourself, was the judge’s decision based upon a disputed issue of fact? In other words, was there a fact that was in dispute and the judge made an erroneous decision based upon the factual evidence? In that situation you want to think about did I present my evidence? Did I present my facts? What facts should have been presented? Then you have to think whether the facts that were presented support the ruling by the court. In other words, did the judge make the best decision based upon the facts that were presented to the court?

Quite frankly, factual decisions by a judge are very difficult to overturn on appeal; it is tough. You also have to think whether there was an error in the application of the law and whether that error is something that the appellate court can review all over again. If you have an error in the law that is not factual driven, in other words is an erroneous interpretation of the law, then you have a better chance of prevailing in a appellate situation.

Another thing you can do is file a motion to modify clerical errors. Sometimes that does happen. You could consider a motion for post-trial relief to modify clerical errors. Sometimes if you have an issue that the judge made a typo or didn’t make the correct decision and is something that was clearly in error, you can contact the court and ask the judge to consider changing the court’s order. If you believe that you got a bad result, it is important that you act immediately. There are strict deadlines for filing a motion for post-trial relief or filing an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals. If you are unhappy with the results you got, you need to act very quickly or you may let the time run for you to do something to address the error that’s occurred.

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Matthews Family Lawyers