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Divorce can understandably be a difficult experience both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, sometimes the outcome of a divorce trial is not exactly what you would have wanted and expected.

However, once your divorce becomes final, you might still have the chance to challenge specific decisions that the North Carolina court has made, or you can change particular obligations and rights established in your final divorce judgment.

Appeal process

You or your ex-spouse may appeal the decision of a divorce court judge to a higher court, called an appeals or appellate court. Still, it is not common for appeals courts to overturn judges’ decisions in divorce cases. Nonetheless, it may be possible depending on the circumstances of your case.

To complete the appeal process, your attorney must file a written appellate brief, which contains your legal argument and the particular case law or statutes you are using to support your argument. In your brief, you will essentially argue that your divorce judge did not apply the law correctly in reaching a certain decision. Meanwhile, your ex-spouse will likely claim that the court made the right decision. After the appeals court reaches a decision regarding your case, you cannot pursue additional appeals in the future.

Divorce judgment modification process

Rather than challenging your divorce judge’s decision through the appeal process, you may choose to ask the court to modify certain parts of the divorce judgement. Items eligible for change include alimony, child support, visitation schedules and a child custody arrangement. To pursue modification, you must file a motion to modify your divorce judgment.

This opportunity may be helpful if, for example, the court granted your ex-spouse primary physical custody of the children but your ex was arrested for a drug crime. In this situation, you may ask the court to change the custody arrangement in light of the arrest. Likewise, if the court orders you to pay $3,000 in spousal and child support but you just lost your job, you can move to temporarily change your support schedules.

Important appeal considerations

An important consideration regarding appeals is that you typically cannot appeal a settlement agreement if both you and the other party agreed to the settlement’s terms. Also, appeals require certain filing deadlines and requirements. An attorney can provide you with the guidance needed to navigate this process quickly and appropriately.