June 1st, 2013

1155172Arizona Family Law Attorney Shares Post Ruling Discussion of Items to Consider When Adverse Rulings are Entered after Trial

Submitted by Attorney Douglas C. Gardner

I am very competitive.  I like to win.  I try very hard to win for my clients in each case.  I generally do win.  When I can see from the facts of the case that my client is not likely to win, I hold very serious discussions with my clients and have blunt discussions with them about their likelihood of winning.  When it does not appear that success at trial is likely, I work with my clients to persuade them to settle the case on as favorable term as possible.  I can often get my clients a better result through settlement than by going to trial when the facts of a case are not favorable.  (Of course, I will work in all cases to try and get an appropriate settlement to avoid the risks of trial).

Nonetheless, going to trial is a risk.  There are no guarantees in litigation.  And while I have generally been very successful going to trial, no attorney can win every single case.  So, what do you as a client do when despite your best efforts and the best efforts of your attorney, the Judge has now ruled against you.

Upon the Court entering a signed order, a party has up to 15 days to ask the court for a new trial, to ask the Court to alter or amend the decision, or to correct some mistake.  I have often been successful with these post-trial motions when asking the court to make small adjustments or gentle shifts.  Rarely, however, will the Court receive even the best written motions and  realize: “Wow, I was completely wrong, and I should make a new ruling in a completely opposite direction.”  It may occasionally happen, but most judges are quite certain that they were right the first time and are not persuadable to dramatically shift directions.

Additionally, the parties can file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days in most cases (only 15 days in juvenile cases).  This allows a party to seek review by three appellate judges to argue that the trial judge misapplied the law or abused his or her discretion in entering the offending ruling.  Appeals can be very expensive and can often take a year or more to resolve.

Issues such as the division of assets and debts, if not altered or appealed after the trial are considered final, and once the time to appeal has passed, these issues are final and can never be changed.  Accordingly, if you have received a bad judgment as to assets and debts, you will need to either live with it or fight it promptly.

Other issues, such as child support, parenting time and legal decision making, and spousal support can be modified by the Court from time to time based upon a change in circumstances.  The urgency of an appeal may not be as important because these issues can be reviewed by the Court months or years after.  Keep in mind, however, that changes to spousal support and child support are only effective on the first day of the month following the service of a Petition to Modify.  The Court cannot retroactively change child support or spousal support.  Accordingly, if the adverse ruling includes a large arrearage, it may be important to appeal such an order as a subsequent modification would have no effect.

If you have received an order from the Court that you are not pleased with or satisfied with, it is important that you promptly and immediately discuss your options with an attorney.  Time is of the essence.  Your 15 days and 30 days are ticking.  If you do not watch these deadlines, you may forfeit certain legal rights.

If you are involved in a divorce, legal separation, or annulment case or other family law case, if you have received an adverse ruling that you would like to discuss your legal options, and if you have determined that you need experienced legal representation, please call 800-899-2730 and ask to speak with Douglas C. Gardner, or visit our website at www.yourarizonadivorcelawyer.com.