Have you recently gone through a divorce that didn’t exactly go your way? It can be tough to proceed with a divorce- to pay for an attorney, use up all the time you did, and not obtain the result you were hoping for. When you attempted to settle the divorce with your spouse, you could not do that. What you had to try for next was a trial by judge. You felt like your options were limited at that point. Not only were you unaware of what your chances at getting another opportunity in front of the judge were, but you were just plain tired. It’s tough going through with divorce only to have a trial not go your way.
Appealing a divorce in Texas can be done. The key to this discussion is discerning your reason to appeal the divorce. You need to figure out a solid enough reason to try and appeal the case. It’s not that you have to be dissatisfied to a certain level to appeal your case, but you must be able to have grounds for appeal that are valid under Texas law. If not, you will not be able to appeal your divorce and would have to live with the results of your case.
To start with, reading through blog posts like this one is an excellent place to start. This will allow you to obtain a basis of knowledge for learning about the appeal process. From there, I would recommend contacting an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to learn even more about the appeals process in the context of a divorce. You can provide information about your specific circumstances to the attorney you meet with and receive feedback about your life and the prospects of appealing a decision by a family court judge.
How does your final decree of divorce come into play?
A final decree of divorce is the court order produced by your divorce case. This document, which is typically long, contains all the information about your divorce case. This includes issues regarding your children, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, and a division of your community estate. This is an essential document and is why you get divorced in the first place. You go through all of the difficulties associated with the divorce to obtain this court order which you and your spouse will both use in the future to ensure that the other is abiding by the agreement made or the orders of the judge.
Contrary to what many people think, your divorce is not over with immediately after the trial. Your divorce is over When the judge signs the final decree of divorce. Typically, you, your spouse, and both attorneys involved in your case will also sign the document. The Final decree of divorce contains your name in that of your spouse as well as the cast number. This way, the order can be identified, especially if you need to appeal your case in the future. The same court would hear your appeal that issued the divorce decree. At the end of the final decree of divorce will be the date on which your final decree would become final.
Here is where the chances of an appeal come into play for your case. If you believe that the divorce decree has some accuracies or is unfair based on the facts and evidence of your case, you can and should pursue an appeal. When I say pursue, I mean to consider whether an appeal is appropriate and gain more information. As discussed earlier in today’s blog post, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are ready and equipped to assist you with an appeal of your case. However, time is of the essence, and you do not have an unlimited amount of time to wait to determine what you want to do. Therefore, collecting information and then deciding is of the utmost importance.
Appealing a divorce decree in Texas
There are several reasons you may be interested in contesting your divorce decree, and being upset at the results of your case or operating under the belief that something needs to be done at this stage to protect you or your children is not necessarily one of them. As we discussed at the beginning of today’s blog post, you must have valid grounds to move forward with the divorce case. Learning what those grounds are and how to apply them to your case is what an experienced family law attorney can assist you with period otherwise, you may be in a position where you struggle to figure out what direction you should go in or even if it is worth your time trying to appeal your divorce decree.
Appealing a divorce decree because the judge made an error in applying the law is probably the first place you should look to where the filing your appeal. The Texas family code will contain all the statutes that a judge would have utilized to apply state law to your case. Therefore, you and your attorney should review the judges’ decisions from the court and your final divorce decree when determining whether there are valid grounds to appeal that divorce decree. As you can see, you need to have an experienced family law attorney guiding you during this time because it is unlikely that you will be knowledgeable of the Texas family code sufficient to make a point in this regard.
Another interesting point that I will make is that many people believe that they will learn what it takes during a divorce to determine whether an appeal is in their best interest or just to learn about the divorce process. However, remember that just because you have a divorce case ongoing does not mean that the rest of your life is put on hold. There will be many other circumstances that can impact your life moving forward, such as your family, your work situation, and a long list of other considerations. Just because you will be going through a divorce does not mean that these issues will all go away. As a result, you need to work with an experienced family law attorney to help you get through these topics so that you will be as well prepared as possible when it comes to making an essential decision like whether to appeal your divorce.
An appellate court would review the decisions of your judge would determine whether to move forward with your appeal. Not agreeing with the judges’ decisions is not grounds to appeal your case. In fact, in the appellate court, who would look at the evidence most favorable to the lower court’s determination. It is not as if he will be able to present new evidence, or an appellate court will look at the evidence in the light most favorable to you. Instead, the appellate court will essentially look for any reason not to grant your appeal. So, you must have solid grounds for an appeal and be ready to present those grounds in your petition to appeal the case.
Grounds for an appeal of your divorce
Sometimes you or your attorney may discover information that could not have been reasonably discovered during your divorce case itself. In that case, you can alert the appellate court to that information or those facts to determine whether they would potentially be sufficient to overturn the judge’s decision. For example, suppose it came to light that your spouse was hiding Community property from you or other financial documents. In that case, we’re not provided to you in discovery, but that you could not have learned about that during the divorce itself could be used as grounds to appeal your case. You’re looking for documents that existed but could not have been reasonably discovered by you or your attorney during the divorce itself. Not requesting discovery and then finding out after the divorce that there were simple documents that could have changed the outcome of your case are not grounds for an appeal.
Next, a court could determine that your spouse concealed evidence from you and your attorney during your divorce. Again, failing to disclose every single document related to the division of your community property is not necessarily concealing assets or critical information. They were under no obligation to turn over every document under the sun when it came to any subject. So long as they made known the most relevant documents or responded to discovery appropriately, then failing to come forward with every document imaginable is not necessarily grounds to appeal your divorce. This is a circumstances-based issue that you should probably run by your attorney before filing an appeal.
When duress, perjury, or fraud come to play, these would also be potential grounds for an appeal. From my experience, fraud or coercion rarely comes to play, but if you have proof that your spouse or an essential witness of theirs lied on the witness stand, then this will be valid to consider an appeal. This is true mainly if the judge relied a great deal upon the testimony of one witness or another when it comes to the results of a trial.
Similarly, if A judge allowed evidence to be admitted into the record over and above an objection, these are potential grounds for an appeal. This is a particular area of the law; it is not something that I would necessarily recommend that you consider too much without the assistance of an attorney. Once you get into issues related to the admissibility of evidence in a family court appeal case, you have the situation on your hands where you need to be sure about what you are doing. For that reason, having an experienced family law attorney to assist you in your appeal is a great idea.
What is the process like to appeal a divorce decree in Texas?
There is a basic procedure that you will need to follow when getting a divorce decree appealed correctly. A motion to appeal the judge’s decision must be filed in the appropriate appellate court for your county. There are 14 appellate courts in Texas for you to possibly file your appeal in. However, you must be aware of the correct court for your jurisdiction and follow their rules when filing an appeal.
A complaint would be filed with your motion for an appeal that specifies the grounds on which you are basing your appeal and the specific reasons from your case why you believe an appeal is appropriate. Evidence must also be provided to the court to show why its appeal is appropriate. The trouble with an appeal is that a court can take a relatively long time to decide whether to grant your request. It would help if you waited for the court’s decision and could not move forward with other areas of your life while you wait. It could be like your entire life is put on hold to wait on whether your appeal is granted.
What if you cannot get your appeal granted?
It is possible that the court will not grant your appeal request. In that case, you need to know what options are potentially available for you. Not having valid grounds to appeal your divorce decree does not mean you have no options to consider. However, you need to be aware of those options to pursue those grounds. Likely, your best option after having your request for an appeal granted would be to have your case modified by filing a modification.
Just as we saw with that appeal, however, specific grounds in certain areas of your divorce decree can be appealed under Texas law. For one, there must have been a material or substantial change in circumstances that you have under God, your spouse is under God, or one of your children has undergone since the last time you were in court. This is a high burden to meet and reflects the courts’ hesitancy about overturning divorce decrees, even in part. For that reason, you should make sure that you have grounds for an appeal before moving forward with the case. To file an appeal when you do not have the right circumstances could mean wasting time and resources that could be better utilized in other areas.
Spousal maintenance is an area of your divorce decree that can be modified. The grounds to modify spousal maintenance are a material and substantial change in circumstances involving you or your ex-spouse. Those material and substantial changes usually revolve around your ex-spouse either remarrying or moving in with a partner with whom they are engaged in a romantic relationship. Proving that they have moved in with a romantic partner is the most critical aspect of this type of modification. You can potentially have the burden of paying spousal maintenance removed if you successfully prove that this has occurred.
Next, probably the most frequently filed for a reason to modify a divorce decree is child custody and visitation. When we file for modification on either of these areas, it is usually due to something no longer working in the possession schedule for the kids. Either you want more time, the kids need a schedule change to accommodate their changing needs, or another issue has come up with you or your ex-spouse. In either case, a modification on child custody matters can relate to time with the kids or your conservatorship rights.
Finally, child support issues can be modified as well. For example, suppose that your child developed a disability over the past few years that makes the current amount of support no longer viable. In that case, you should consider modifying the child support to consider these circumstances. Or, you may have had your income significantly reduced due to a job change or a disability suffered on your part. A modification would be appropriate to consider in any of these circumstances.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.
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Other Articles you may be interested in regarding Custody
- Child Custody Basics for Texas Parents Revisited
- When Can a Minor Child Weigh in on Custody Decisions in Texas?
- Texas Child Custody Modifications
- Amicus Attorneys in Child Custody Disputes in Texas?
- Sole Managing Conservator in a Child Custody Case in Texas?
- Teens with Children, Child Custody and Child Support in Texas
- Child Custody Appeals in Texas: A Second Chance
- Custody and Visitation Rights of Grandparents in Texas
- 11 Things You Must Know About Texas Child Custody
- 12 Texas Custody & Conservatorship Battle Tips
- Appealing a family court decision in Texas
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.