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A Colorado court appeal occurs when a higher court reviews the decision of a lower court and either affirms that decision, leaving it to stand, or reverses, changing that decision.
After a divorce becomes final — through settlement agreement or after a court decision — either spouse may still have an opportunity tо challenge certain decisions made by the court, or change certain rights and obligations set out in the final divorce judgment.
Either or both spouses can appeal a trial court judge’s decision to a higher (“appellate” оr “appeals”) court, but it is unusual for an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision in a divorce case. Nevertheless, the following paragraphs contain an overview of the appeals process.
Colorado court appeal decisions usually turn to the “record,” a written version of what happened in the trial court. The success of an appeal typically depends on what occurred at trial; new evidence may not be introduced on appeal. Once an appeals court hands down a decision, the opportunity for further appeals is limited.
Also, remember that settlement agreements usually cannot be appealed if both spouses agreed to the terms of the settlement.
If you and your former spouse reach a settlement agreement on issues such as property division and appropriate child support payments, and the judge approved and finalized that settlement agreement, you are most likely bound by the terms of that agreement.
To request the court to modify a judgment arising from the settlement agreement, the following procedures may apply:
While appealing your divorce involves challenging the trial court’s decision in front of a higher court, you can also ask the trial court itself to change certain aspects of the divorce judgment after it has been entered. You may request changes for various aspects of divorce, including child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, child support, and spousal support.
In the family law setting, such a request is usually made by filing a “motion to modify” the divorce decree or judgment. This motion is usually filed with the same court where the divorce was originally filed (and where the divorce judgment was issued).
For example, if the divorce decree awarded primary physical custody оf your children to your former spouse, and you later learn that he or she has been arrested for illegal drug possession, you may be able to ask the court to modify custody based on these new facts. Similarly, if the original divorce judgment required you to pay $2,000 in child and spousal support, but you recently got laid off from your job, you can file a motion to temporarily modify support schedules.
Now that you have a better understanding of Colorado court appeals and how they relate to divorce and family law, move forward with your court appeal with the help of the Burnham Law Firm. Our attorneys are ready to assist you and ensure that you fully understand the scope of the laws governing court appeals.