Property Distribution Appeals

Appeal a Divorce Judgment Regarding Division of Property

While California law provides standard procedures for amending custody and support arrangements that are part of a divorce decree, changing the distribution of property can be much more challenging. However, it is possible to appeal a property distribution decision with the right arguments.

Appealing a judgment is handled differently than an initial trial, so for that reason many family law attorneys choose not to handle appeals. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we have dedicated an area of our practice to appellate cases. Our Certified Family Law Specialists and associates have the knowledge and experience to succeed in property division appeals.

Grounds for an Appeal

In order to get the appellate court to agree to consider whether the earlier judgment should be set aside, you need to present legally valid reasons for the court to hear your case. Specifically, you need to show that there was a crucial mistake in the earlier decision. It might be possible to show that the judge applied the wrong law to a situation or that the law was applied in the incorrect way.

It may also be possible to convince the court to consider your property division appeal if you can show that your former spouse hid assets during the divorce process, concealed key facts, and committed fraud through some other method.

So, the first step in the process of appealing a property distribution decision is to determine what grounds you have to file an appeal.

How the Appeals Process Works

California law limits the amount of time you have to file a Notice of Appeal with the court. You must gather your information, make your decisions, and file the Notice no later than 180 after the order of judgment.

Unlike a trial where parties present evidence and arguments to the court verbally as well as in writing, most of the activity in appellate litigation occurs through formal written presentations. Attorneys for the party filing the appeal prepare a detailed opening brief where they describe the background of the case and present all of their arguments to show why the lower court’s decision should be overturned. Having all the arguments detailed in writing gives the panel of appellate judges much more time to consider the merits of the arguments.

The opposing party will have the opportunity to file a responding brief. Then the court will schedule a short period of oral argument. Each side may make a brief statement and the judges can ask questions about issues raised in the briefs. However, most of the court’s decision will be based on the written material presented earlier.

This is a specialized process and it can take considerable time. If you want to appeal a decision, you need to consult an experienced appellate attorney who can give you an honest assessment of whether you have the right grounds to succeed on appeal. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we have the knowledge to give you an accurate evaluation of whether the court is likely to hear your case and how they could rule on appeal.

If the appellate court declines to hear the case, they may issue a denial without any explanation. You may have no way of knowing whether the denial was based on the merits of the case or based on a procedural error. So it is crucial to work with an attorney experienced in appellate procedure who can avoid those types of mistakes.

Property Division Often Hinges on Classification Decisions

In California, judges have less discretion about the division of marital property than in many other states. They are supposed to establish an equal division unless the spouses agree to a different arrangement. If the parties established their own agreement based on incomplete knowledge because one party was hiding assets, that could provide grounds for an appeal, but not necessarily.

Remember that while community marital property is divided equally in divorce, property classified as separate property is kept by one spouse. Therefore, the determination of whether property is marital or separate is tremendously important. If you can show that the lower court improperly applied standards for classifying property, that could provide the basis for an effective appeal.

Talk to the Appellate Attorneys at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC About Your Property Distribution Appeal

It is not fair to lose your rightful property in divorce because the court made a mistake or your spouse committed fraud. If you believe you have grounds to appeal a judgment regarding property division in California, consult the dedicated appellate family law attorneys at Holstrom, Block & Parke to learn more about your options for obtaining the outcome you deserve.