Dupage County Lawyers

DuPage County Family Court Of Appeals Attorney

REAL PROBLEMS. REAL SOLUTIONS.

If you are not satisfied with a circuit court’s decision in your family law case, there’s a chance to change it by appealing to the Illinois Court of Appeals. The appellate court will not give you a new trial, but it will review the case and decide whether or not the circuit court made a mistake in the original trial.

An appeal of a lower court decision is one of the most challenging tasks in the practice of law. To have a chance of succeeding, an appeal must be carefully researched, well written, and persuasively argued.

The seasoned and compassionate Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., have handled numerous appeals of family law matters. We know the courts, the judges, and the system, and we understand how to identify the key legal issues on which to base successful appeals and vigorously pursue them.

If you are considering appealing a lower court decision, we offer a free initial consultation to examine your individual situation, see if your appeal makes sense, and come up with solutions that are best for you and your family.

Don’t delay.  Contact us online or call our offices to set up your free consultation today.

Why File an Appeal?

To make an appeal there usually must first be a final judgment from a judge or jury.  You need good reasons, beyond just being unhappy with the decision, for making this appeal, such as:

  • The trial was unfair for specific reasons
  • The evidence presented did not support the results
  • There were legal or factual mistakes made in the way the law was applied

Areas of Appeal

Family law appeals are most commonly made in the following areas:

  • Child custody – This occurs when parents are not happy with the way parenting responsibilities and time with their children is allocated.  Illinois law no longer grants one parent primary residential “custody,” and the other parent “visitation.”  One parent may still have most of the decision-making responsibilities, or these responsibilities may be split between the parents, and time with each parent may be split in various ways.
  • Child custody removals — This occurs when one parent with physical custody of a child wants to move beyond the allowed distance from the other parent, either out of state or to the other side of Illinois.
  • Asset allocation and valuation – Illinois is an equitable distribution state, where assets are supposed to be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, based on considerations regarding the situations of both divorcing partners.
  • Child support  — In Illinois, both parents are expected to contribute to their children’s support based on a specific formula, which changed on July 1, 2017. The new law has an income-share system.  Both parents are held accountable for child support based on how much they financially contributed to the combined household income while married.
  • Spousal maintenance — Spousal maintenance in Illinois is based on need and is gender neutral, so both women andmen may be eligible to receive it. The purpose is to enable spouses to continue living at a standard that is similar to what they enjoyed while they were married, but support is not intended to go on indefinitely.

What does the appeals process look like?

Anyone wanting to appeal a final judgment has 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal with the appellate court. This notice states the decision you are appealing, the case date, name and number, and that you want the decision reversed. It also states who is filing the appeal and who will be responding to it. This Notice of Appeal must be filed with the circuit clerk where your case was heard, and it must be done electronically. Filing fees must also be paid.

In the appellate court, a panel of three judges will review the records and transcripts from the circuit court. Legal briefs are submitted from both sides arguing their case as to why the original court ruling should be changed by the appellate court. Attorneys for both parties may also be required to give verbal arguments.

A written decision is made based on a vote of two out of the three judges, and the decision can be one of four possibilities:

  • Affirm:  agree with the decision of the circuit court, and you lose your appeal.
  • Remand: request that the circuit court do something more, even redo the trial.
  • Reverse: undo the original decision.
  • Reverse and remand: disagree with the original decision and send it back to the circuit court for correction.

What if You Disagree With the Appeal Results?

There is one more court you can appeal to if you do not agree with the decision of the appellate court — the Illinois Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court is very selective about the cases it will review and will hear only a small number of cases which have important legal aspects.  Also, the process of appealing to the Supreme Court is complicated and requires following specific rules. If the Supreme Court decides not to review a case, the appellate court decision is final.

In some rare cases, where a Federal right or law is at issue, it may be possible to appeal in the Federal court system.  However, it is unusual that divorce or custody cases involve Federal laws or rights.

Contact us for a Free Consultation

If you are considering appealing a lower court decision, time is of the essence.  While there can be no guaranteed outcomes in the Appellate Court, Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., will energetically pursue your case. We will thoroughly review the record of the original proceeding and examine the laws for a novel or a unique basis on which to approach the case in the Appellate Court.

You should be aware however, that the appeals process can be lengthy. Throughout the entire process, we will keep you informed of our progress. As in all our family law and divorce practice, we will answer your questions and address your concerns at any time.

The experienced Illinois appellate court attorneys at Wolfe Stec, Ltd., offer a free consultation where we can explain the appeal process, assess the strength of your case, and discuss how we may be able to obtain a positive outcome for you. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.

Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., practices in the appellate courts of the First, Second, and Third Districts.

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