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Can you change your divorce judgment?

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Sometimes final does not really mean final. Such can be the case in a divorce action, as both parties have the right to return to court to challenge the judge's decision under certain circumstances. While not typical in divorce cases, parties do have the right to appeal decisions to appellate courts.

The party who is appealing outlines his or her case in a brief with supportive case laws cited. The attorney files the appellate brief, arguing that the lower court judge incorrectly applied or interpreted the law in making his or her ruling.

Opposing counsel then has the opportunity to present the argument summarized in their brief that the ruling was indeed correct. Both parties may then present oral arguments to the Appellate Court.

Appellate judges comb over the court record looking for inaccuracies that would reverse the lower court's decision.

The other method of revisiting a decision by the court is to file a motion to modify a judgment. Instead of filing it at the appellate level, however, this motion is filed with the original court where the judgment was handed down.

Only certain topics are subject to modification and there must be a change in circumstances that necessitates this modification being filed. For example, if the party responsible for paying child support suddenly gets laid off, he or she can file for a reduction in the amount of the support payments.

The family law attorney who handled the original divorce filing can file your appeal or motion to modify, or you may decide to choose an entirely different firm to handle this aspect of your divorce case.

Source: FindLaw, "Appeals and Motions to Modify the Divorce Judgment," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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