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There are situations when a party (or both parties) to a divorce will disagree with the decision made by the district court judge. The remedy? Filing an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Success on appeal can be quite difficult. Statistically, about 85% of all appeals fail. Still, with so much at stake, many litigants see no option but to pursue a reversal of the decision of the lower court.

If any of the following questions are answered in the affirmative, you stand a good chance on appeal:

  • Were legal principles ignored when the judge’s decision was made?
  • Was the judgment, or discretion, of the court abused?
  • Was credible, and significant, evidence ignored by the district court?

The Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear family law appeals as a matter of right — as opposed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which picks and chooses the cases they wish to decide.

Appeals are procedurally challenging; there are strict rules and guidelines that have to be followed by all parties, right down to the color of the legal brief cover. Critically important, the appeal must be filed within certain number of days after the original judgment is entered, or the Court of Appeals will not consider it. In family court, the timeline for appeal is 60 days from the date of entry of the Judgment and Decree.

Keep in mind that the original decision of the court will not change unless, and until, the appeal is successful. The court, however, may issue a “stay pending appeal,” which means that no decision is in effect until the appeals process is completed. To obtain such a stay, the following must be proven:

  • The original decision could bring irreparable harm if the judgment is enforced; and
  • The appeal is based upon a meritorious issue and is likely to be successful.

Sometimes “success” on appeal results in a remand back to the district court.

This means another trial, or hearing, must occur before the same district court judge, who must consider the guidance of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in its decision. Many litigants find this frustrating, in the sense that it can be quite time consuming and expensive.

The good news is that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has adopted a mandatory mediation program for all family law appeals. To the surprise of many, this program has resulted in a settlement success rate of about 50%. That statistic is quite shocking, given the fact that appeals, naturally, follow a trial — and trials involve a great disparity in the position of each party, not to mention raw emotion.

In the end, it can be difficult to determine whether or not to appeal a district court decision. We are here to help. Call (763) 783-5146 to arrange a consultation.