It is quite common in the context of family law litigation for a litigant to feel that the Judge’s ruling was completely wrong. Perhaps the Judge’s order for alimony or spousal support was too high, or too low. Perhaps the Judge did not give you the amount of time with your children that you believe you deserve. When a Judge is charged with making a decision in a family law case, this can place the Judge in a very difficult position. Any Judge will tell you that he or she will never know your case and well as you do. There are key determinations to be made before deciding whether further Court action is required to address what you perceive to be a bad ruling.
If you believe that the Judge misunderstood or failed to consider certain information that was presented to him at the time of the ruling, you have the option to file a Motion for Reconsideration. If you are seeking reconsideration from a final order (meaning there is nothing left for the court to decide), you need to do so rather quickly. The Court rules only allow a Motion for Reconsideration to be filed within twenty days of the final order. If your order is not final, you are not held to the strict twenty-day deadline, but it would still make sense in most cases to file as soon as possible. This is something you should speak to an experienced family law attorney about, especially if you are not sure whether your order is “final.”
You also have the option to appeal the Judge’s order, however this is not an endeavor that should be taken lightly. You may only appeal as of right, if your order is final. If you do not have a final order (meaning your litigation is ongoing), you need to seek permission (or leave to appeal) from the Appellate by way of motion. The appellate process is neither easy nor inexpensive. Further, it is important to note that the Appellate Division gives deference to the family court judges’ findings. The role of the Appellate Division is not to re-try your case, or give you a “second bite at the apple,” but rather to ensure that the family court judge’s findings were reasonable, supported by adequate, substantial and credible evidence, and in accordance with the law.
If you are dissatisfied with a Judge’s ruling, it is important to speak to an experienced family lawyer to determine whether it is advisable to take further action. An experienced family law attorney will be able to advise you as to the process, time frames and your likelihood of success. If you are considering taking legal action after a family law ruling, contact our New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys today for a cost-free consultation. One of our highly knowledgeable family lawyers will be happy to answer all of your questions and explain your available options.