Appeals from divorce cases, or post-decree custody matters, constitute a large number of cases taken to the Indiana Court of Appeals. By the time a divorce trial is over (or subsequent child custody modification case), many people are drained emotionally and have spent a lot of money to litigate a divorce or modification action. However, the losing party (or both parties) can appeal. For most people, the mere thought of having to retain new appellate counsel to address an appeal is an unpleasant thought at best. Since there is no requirement to file an appellee’s brief, the question we often ...
October 22, 2020CD
In many instances, individuals getting divorced will enter into settlement agreements to divide what is deemed “marital property.” Settlement agreements are contractual in nature. Therefore, when individuals enter into settlement agreements dividing marital property, the settlement agreements become binding on the parties. The trial court only retains jurisdiction to interpret the terms of the property settlement agreement and to enforce them. But what happens if the settlement agreement was improper or was based on something like fraud? Is there ever any instance in which a court can modify an agreement? The Court of Appeals recently addressed such questions in their ...
July 23, 2020CD
We often see a lot of confusion when it comes to appeals and the appeals process. This is understandable, as it is an extremely technical process, requiring close attention to the rules of appellate procedure. In Indiana, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are limited in their ability to hear certain matters and the evidence that can be presented in each particular matter. You may be wondering then, what evidence does the Court of Appeals consider? Can it be any evidence? New evidence? In this blog, we try to answer some of these questions and provide a basic understanding ...
July 17, 2020CD
Appeals represent only a small fraction of all of the final orders issued each year by Indiana Trial Courts. Appeals take an additional emotional toll, are sometimes costly, and add several more months to the litigation. That said, the Appellant has the right, presupposing the potential Appellee, files an Appellee’s Brief, to have the proverbial last word on appeal and may file a Reply Brief not later than fifteen (15) days after the Appellee’s Brief is served. This is an Appellant’s right under the Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure, but it is not required.1 This blog explores why most Appellant’s ...
June 26, 2020CD
Like everyone and everything in life, the judicial system isn’t perfect. As such, sometimes trial courts get it wrong. If you or someone you know just received a child custody determination that you believe was wrongly decided, you have the ability to seek relief via an appeal. How is this done? How long does it take? In this blog, we look at the general process for appealing a custody order in Indiana. The first thing to consider in the appeal process is the timing of initiating the appeal. Generally speaking, once you receive a final custody order, whether it be an ...
June 17, 2020CD
In a civil trial with many issues, such as divorce which may have child support, custody, and property issues decided, a losing party may want to challenge every issue, such as a minimal difference or error in weekly child support to be paid. While there is no express appellate rule prohibiting or limiting the number of issues a party may raise on appeal, raising more than three or four issues on appeal is normally not prudent. This blog explores why limiting the number of issues raised on appeal is practical and prudent. As a threshold matter, a party that raises numerous ...
May 29, 2020CD
In domestic cases, trial courts are given wide discretion to decide matters initially, such as when the parties divorce or later in child-support and/or physical and/or legal custody modification proceedings. Further, because so much time, emotion, and judicial resources go into domestic cases, Indiana’s appellate court gives trial courts vast leeway to judge the credibility of witnesses when deciding issues.2 Even if the Court of Appeals might have decided the case differently, it defers to domestic courts on how much weight to assign to a witnesses’ credibility. However, the appellate court’s do not defer to the trial court if it applies ...
May 6, 2020CD
In Indiana, there are thousands and thousands of trials and hearings each year. For litigants who lose on the merits in civil or criminal litigation, there are roughly 3,000 appeals taken to the Indiana Court of Appeals.1 This is Indiana’s intermediate appellate court. The entire appellate process is laborious for the lawyers who handle appeals and time-consuming for the Court because three judges are assigned to review every case. As might be expected, there are comprehensive rules to ensure efficiency and consistency in the process because these appeals come from all of Indiana’s 92 counties. The one rule that can ...
April 30, 2020CD
“I want to appeal!” is a statement we hear often. However, many individual’s knowledge of appeals is very limited. Understanding the appeal process can be confusing, even for attorneys. Whether it be an appeal of a final order or an interlocutory appeal as of right, having a basic understanding of the beginning process of appeals will go a long way. This blog provides the three key questions you should ask yourself when considering taking an appeal. Is this an appealable order? The first question you need to ask is whether you have an appealable order. You may be thinking to yourself, ...
February 13, 2020CD
One question we frequently hear from our clients is “can I get attorney fees?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is, it depends. The main reason for the uncertainty surrounding the ability to obtain attorney fees is due to the fact that our legal system follows what is known as the American Rule. The American Rule is a deviation away from the old common law rule (known as the English Rule), which required the losing party of a particular matter to pay the winning party’s attorney fees. However, under the American Rule, the presumption is that both parties pay their ...
February 6, 2020CD