Category Archives: Appeal

When Court Doesn’t Go your Way…

Sometimes Court doesn’t go your way.

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Judges make mistakes, witnesses remember it wrong and you may ask for improper relief. But, all is not lost. You have options.

Motion for New Trial. This motion, sometimes referred to as a motion for reconsideration, can provide an avenue for the Judge to correct the mistake. They must be filed within 10 days of the Final Judgment and they are not for a do-over, but to correct a clear error of law or fact.

Appeal. You may appeal any Final Judgment. You have 30 days to do so from the final ruling and if you do a timely Motion for New Trial it resets the appeal clock. Appeals can be cumbersome and daunting. These are to the appellate court, not the Court that decided your case. However, an appeal is based on what happened below, the trial record. It’s not for new happenings.

Modification. Even though your judgment may be final, certain aspects are always modifiable. Custody, support, visitation and certain other payments may be changed by the Court if circumstances warrant it.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce and Appeals lawyer in Mississippi.

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Appealing Your Case…the Basics.

“An Appeal is a request that a higher Court review the decision of the lower Court.  A lot of family law decisions are appealed, though very few are successful or result in significant change.”

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Matthew Thompson after admittance to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What’s required prior to filing an Appeal?

Final Order.  A Final Order is one which decides all of the issues and leaves nothing more for the Court to decide.  A Temporary Order (clickable), for example, is not appealable.  It is not a Final Order.

How do you file your appeal?

In Divorce Court there are several options available.  The first option is filing what is called a Motion for New Trial*.  This is filed in the same Court, with the same Judge and must be filed within 10 days of the entry of the Final Order.  This is not merely a chance for a “second bite at the apple,” but rather is to point out significant errors of fact and/or law upon which the Judge relied, which resulted in the wrong decision.  These are routinely denied.  They are denied for several reasons and primarily because the Judge just decided the case and the matter is “fresh.”.

(*There has been some debate over whether a Motion for New Trial is required to perfect an appeal.  The most recent answer is that it is not required in family law matters, however it is a good idea to file one out of an abundance of caution. Please rely upon your attorney for making this decision.)

After the Motion for New Trial is ruled upon by the Court you may file a Notice of Appeal. This is filed in the Divorce Court (Chancery Court) and must be filed within 30 days of either the Final Judgment, or within 30 days of the ruling on the Motion for New Trial, whichever is later.

All appeals are filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court (MSSC).  From there the MSSC decides whether to hear the case or assign it to the Court of Appeals (COA).  The majority of the Family Law cases are assigned to the COA. There is a filing fee, as well. Notice of the Appeal is sent to the original Court that ruled, the Judge, the MSSC, and the other party.

The Appeal process is deadline driven. 

There are deadlines to file the appeal, to pay an estimate for preparing the transcript, to designate the record.  The other party may cross-appeal.

After the initial flurry, a briefing schedule is issued.  

The one appealing,  the Appellant, has 40 days to file their brief and can get multiple extensions of 30, 20, and 10 days.  The Appellee, the one responding to the appeal, then has 30 days to reply and can get extensions of 30, 20, and 10 days.  The Appellant can then file a reply brief within 14 days, with up to one extension of 30 days.  After all the briefs are submitted the Court may allow Oral Argument, if it is a case of first impression or complex, and the Court may not.  Once the briefs are submitted the Court has 270 days to rule.  They rule in a written Opinion that is handed down on either Tuesdays or Thursdays after 1:00 pm.

Even if you “win” you may only get a “do-over.”  Most appeals are denied.  When they are granted it usually results in the matter being sent back to the same Judge that ruled on the case to begin with, with instructions to reconsider certain facts or law.  It does not mean you win and they lose.

Matthew Thompson is a family law appellate attorney that has handled  numerous appeals.  

Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

The Hardest Check to Return; Paying Your Alimony Early and the Pitfalls of “Acceptance”?

Harold Hamm, oil tycoon of Continental Resources sent his ex a check for $974.8 million!

However, she rejected the check delivered to her lawyers.

Hamm immediately sent the full cash value of what a divorce ruling by an Oklahoma County judge determined he owed.  The check was refused because “Ms. Arnall did not want to risk the dismissal of her appeal by acceptance of the benefits.”

Reports indicated that Mr. Hamm was worth some $18 billion and Ms. Arnall’s near-billion dollar payoff seemed paltry to she and her legal team, hence her appeal of the Court’s ruling.

That would be a hard check not to accept!

*Ultimately she did accept the payment and her appeal was dismissed.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce and Alimony Attorney in Mississippi and reminds you that the #1 rule, when we’re fighting over stuff and not people, is to take the money.

Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms