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Appeals


The appeals process can be complex, confusing, and time-consuming. However, there are certainly times when the court simply makes a mistake and filing an appeal is the best or only way to right a wrong and get the just decision that you deserve. If an error was made regarding your divorce decree or other family law court decision, the results could affect every aspect of your life, from your finances to how often you see your children. Appealing an error may take time and effort, but it may be the right decision for you.

In family law, common appeals involve:

  • Parenting plan determinations.
  • The amount of child support awarded.
  • The amount or type of spousal support (alimony) awarded.
  • The division of marital property.
  • Guardianship decisions.

At Montana Legal Advisors, we are here to help you with your family law appeal, whether you are preparing appeal briefs or defending an appeal. We have the skill, experience, and integrity to assist you with every step of your case, including outlining and writing your appeal briefs to the Montana Supreme Court.

Appeals can be lengthy and expensive. For this reason, we offer our clients limited scope representation: standalone legal services that allow you to pick and choose the specific tasks you would like assistance with. Instead of hiring a full-representation attorney, you may handle the appeal mostly by yourself, getting professional guidance only when you need it. For example, we can assist you with writing your appeal briefs while you handle filing the appeal and appearing in court.

Filing an Appeal in Montana

A litigant who files an appeal, known as an “appellant,” must show that the trial court or administrative agency made a legal error that affected the decision in the case. The Montana Supreme Court makes its decision based on the record of the case established by the trial court or agency. It does not receive additional evidence or hear witnesses.

Two common reasons for a family law appeal include:

  • The court failed to make adequate findings of fact. Mistakes were made while gathering or accepting evidence.
  • The court failed to follow the law. Mistakes were made in the application or interpretation of the law.

Appeals are decided by panels of judges working together. The appellant presents legal arguments to the panel in a document called a brief. In the brief, the appellant persuades the judges that the trial court made an error and that its decision should be reversed.

On the other hand, the party defending against the appeal, known as the “appellee,” presents a brief to show why the trial court decision was correct, or why any error made by the trial court was not significant enough to affect the outcome of the case.

Although some cases are decided on the basis of written briefs alone, some cases are selected for an oral argument before the court. Oral argument in the Montana Supreme Court is a structured discussion between the parties and the panel of judges focusing on the legal principles in dispute. Each side is given a short time, usually about 15 minutes, to present arguments to the court.

The Montana Supreme Court is usually the last word in the case unless it sends the case back to the trial court for additional proceedings.

Montana Legal Advisors: Offering Appeals Assistance

The requirements for filing appeals with the Montana Supreme Court are technical and detailed. We can help you navigate the rules, including the privacy rules, when you write your brief. We have over 50 years of combined experience in writing Supreme Court briefs and we can help with identifying the key issues in your appeal and researching the legal principles that apply to you case.

Contact our team to discuss the appellate arguments you are considering, and to learn more about the assistance Montana Legal Advisors can provide to you as you move through the appeals process.


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