When you believe that the judge presiding over your family law case has made an error that must be corrected, you have two primary remedies available to you: one is to appeal, the other is to file a post-judgment motion with the court. Post judgment motions include, but are not limited to Motions for Reconsideration, Motions to Set Aside, Motions for New Trial. A Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Set Aside will not toll (or delay) your deadline to appeal. A Motion for New Trial, in many circumstances, will give you additional time to appeal. Because of the complexity of the laws which govern post-judgment relief, and the many different factors which govern the timing and filing of these motions, it is important to have an attorney who is experienced with both family law with the law of appeals.
Whenever one party is aggrieved by a final order entered in their case, they often question whether or not they should appeal the court’s decision. A decision to appeal should not be arrived at hastily. Not only is an appeal both complicated and expensive, it can also be very risky. In fact, if the Supreme Court of Georgia or Georgia Court of Appeals deems an appeal to have been brought without merit (and what constitutes a frivolous appeal is not always abundantly clear), it can result in monetary sanctions against the party bringing the appeal, the attorney, or both. Therefore, a decision to appeal should be weighed carefully. The answer, of course, depends on many factors. If there appears to be reversible legal error in the courts decision, it may be advisable.
Once a decision to appeal has been made, it is important to move promptly due to the time involved, not just in effectively preparing your case, but also because of the limited time frame available to file an appeal. Further, your attorney should carefully analyze the type of case involved, since certain family law cases are subject to a direct appeal procedure, whereas other cases are subject to a discretionary application procedure. In a discretionary application, you are essentially asking the appeals court for permission to appeal. If the court grants your discretionary application, a Notice of Appeal will have to be filed with the Court where the order was entered that you are appealing from, and you will then have to file a Brief in Support of your appeal.
Lisa Sowers has extensive experience handling both appeals and post-judgment motions, and carefully weighs both the benefits and risks involved, before recommending either course of action.