The process of perfecting an appeal, as discussed in previous blog posts, is often a complex one, with numerous rules and time limitations.1 The general trigger to file an appeal is that the order being appealed is a final order.2
There are, however, exceptions to this final order rule. An interlocutory order is an order of the court that is not final, often occurring during the pendency of the litigation. For example, during the pendency of a divorce case, if the Court ordered the sale of the marital residence, this would constitute an interlocutory order. The final order would be the divorce decree, but this order, before the decree, is an example of an interlocutory order.3
Basically, interlocutory appeals may be authorized or taken as a right in cases where there will be no remedy later. There are even further clarifications and exceptions to interlocutory appeals, however, this blog will not examine these nuances, rather, just the general rules.
The Court of Appeals has recently examined a case involving an appeal of an order, and found it not to be a final order and not a proper interlocutory order to appeal.4 In In Re the Adoption of S.J., Father filed a Motion to Contest Adoption of his biological child by Father’s stepsister and her husband.
After Father’s Motion was filed, the trial Court held a hearing on same and determined that “Father’s consent to the adoption was not required.” Thereafter, Father appealed this order and the Court examined whether the appeal could move forward.
The Court first examined whether the appeal was from a final order. They defined a final judgment as “one which disposes of all claims as to all parties” (internal quotations omitted). If an order is final, the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction. If an order is not final, the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals must be examined.
The court determined that the trial Court’s order which said that Father’s consent was not required was not a final order because it did not “dispose of all the issues” or “put an end to the case.” As such, the Court then examined other possible means to establish jurisdiction.
The Court looked to whether the trial court expressly noted that there was no just reason for delay and directs entry of judgment;5 essentially whether the trial court explicitly noted that this issue in itself was complete and could be appealed.
The Court of Appeals held that this path to jurisdiction was inappropriate as well because the adoption petition was still pending and could be granted or denied in the future. If the adoption petition was granted, that order would be final, and Father could likely then appeal, if he followed the proper process.
The court noted the ability to appeal interlocutory orders, but only ones that were “expressly authorized” by the trial court, who has the best view on the case as a whole. As this order was not “expressly authorized” nor final, the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction and could not entertain Father’s appeal.
As with so many other facets of the legal field, with appellate filing, timing is truly everything. If you are seeking to appeal either an interlocutory or final order, it is best to consult with counsel to be sure your appeal is ripe for review.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices law throughout the state ofIndiana. This blog post was written by Bryan Ciyou and Jessica Keyes.