divorce decree
A divorce decree document and a law gavel

It is common for one or both parties in a divorce to disagree with some of a judge’s rulings. When this happens, they have the right to challenge the decision if they can provide specific legal reasons or information which might have resulted in a different ruling.

Right to Challenge

While courts seek an equitable resolution that is fair to all, a judge’s decisions sometimes negatively impact one or both spouses. Illinois law permits parties to challenge a judge’s decision if a judge misses a point of law or lacks information that would result in a different decision.

Why Challenge

Judge’s are tasked with making important decisions that can have lifelong impacts on divorcing spouses and their children, including:

  • Alimony
  • Division of marital assets
  • Child custody
  • Child support

Judges use the information available and their knowledge of the law to arrive at equitable decisions, but they are not infallible.

Types of Challenges

There are three basic methods of reversing a judge’s decision in a divorce proceeding.

1- File a Motion to Reconsider

A motion to reconsider is a legal way of saying that the judge was mistaken. This could be either on the manner in which they applied the law or because they lacked information and facts that might have changed their ruling. It is important to remember that the motion to reconsider must have sound legal justification.

2- File an Appeal

An appeal takes the case to a higher court and must be filed within thirty days of the original decision. Appeals courts do not review the facts of the case. Instead, they focus on how the trial judge applied the law and may overturn a decision if the judge made an error.

3- File a Different Motion

A family law attorney will sometimes file a separate motion on a matter that is similar to the issue in dispute. In this way the lawyer may be able to secure a favorable decision on the related matter, offsetting the effects of the unfavorable decision.

Understanding Is Essential

Challenging a judge’s decisions is not something to take lightly. In some cases, the reversed decision can have even more negative impacts than the original ruling. An understanding of the potential consequences and legal requirements for the challenge is essential before challenging a judge’s decision.