Alabama divorce appeals are initially heard by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Montgomery. There are five judges that sit on the Court of Civil Appeals. These judges are elected in a statewide election for six year terms. Depending on the issues involved, the decision of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in an Alabama divorce appeal may be reviewed by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Issues that may be involved in an Alabama divorce appeal are wide ranging and include: Alimony, Child Custody, Child Support, Property Division and Division of Retirement. These issues are decided at the trial court level by a judge and not a jury. In an Alabama divorce appeal, all five judges on the Court of Appeals will review the case.
The standard of review in an Alabama divorce appeal depends on the nature of the issue on appeal. In general, the trial judges decision on an issue or question of fact given great deference, or respect. The appellate court will not change the trial court’s decision on an issue of fact unless they determine that the trial court abused its discretion. The formal rule regarding the deference given factual determinations of trial courts on issues of fact is called the ore tenus rule.
The standard of review in an Alabama divorce appeal regarding a purely legal question, or a question of law, is much different. Where the trial court makes a decision regarding a question of law, the Court of Appeals will review the decision without any presumption that it is correct. This type of review is referred to as de novo review, which means “from the beginning”.
Determining which types of issues you may have in a Alabama divorce appeal is difficult for the untrained person. An experienced Alabama divorce attorney can review the case and determine what issues are presented in the case and which of the issues are the strongest. It is essential that you have an experienced appellate attorney to assist you on appeal. The rules governing appeals are very strict and typically the appeal is determined based on written briefs submitted by the parties attorneys.
William K. Bradford has over 20 years experience in appellate law, and is a veteran appellate attorney. He can assist you in determining whether you should appeal a case and the likelihood of succeeding in your Alabama divorce appeal.