Tampa Divorce Appeals Lawyer
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. So, it is very difficult to challenge the granting of a divorce. However, in the other aspects of a divorce case, such as the property division, judges must scrupulously follow a number of laws and provisions. Furthermore, the evidence presented at trial must support the legal conclusions that the judge makes. Shortcomings in either area are grounds for appeal at multiple levels.
At the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group, our experienced Tampa divorce appeals lawyers are well-familiar with all these complex family laws. We quickly spot any intentional or unintentional judicial area. Then, we take immediate action to preserve your rights. At the same time, we are very diligent in the evidence we present. We always work to ensure that the judge’s conclusions are tied to solid evidence. That way, the verdict we obtain will withstand the scrutiny of a higher court.
General Magistrate Appeals
Non-judge judges are very common in many counties, especially larger jurisdictions like Hillsborough County or Pinellas County. Essentially, the general magistrate is an associate judge who hears preliminary matters, discovery disputes, and other non-final hearings. Sometimes, general magistrates are well-versed in family law. But other times, general magistrates have less experience than the attorneys who argue cases before them.
If a general magistrate does not follow the proper law, an aggrieved party may file a notice of appeal within ten days. The Circuit Court judge will then consider the matter. If the appeal has a legitimate basis, the judge could either decide the matter or send the case back to the general magistrate with specific instructions.
It may also be possible to reconsider a general magistrate’s decision if new evidence comes to light. For example, assume the general magistrate awards primary custody to Mother. If the social worker’s report concludes that the children should primarily reside with Father, Father’s attorney may be able to have the general magistrate reconsider the earlier finding.
Circuit Court Appeals
As mentioned, it’s very difficult to challenge the divorce itself. Technically, if there is a reasonable expectation of reconciliation, such an action may be successful. But as far as most judges are concerned, the mere fact that one spouse filed a divorce petition and followed through to the end usually means that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
However, when it comes to a failure to follow the law, two general types of appeal are available at this level:
- Motion for Rehearing: This motion is essentially a second-chance trial. Everyone has a bad day from time to time. If the judge made a clear error (e.g. not counting all income in a child support calculation), a motion for rehearing may be successful. In most other cases, however, it is a long shot.
- Traditional Appeal: If the motion for rehearing is denied, either party may appeal the case to the appropriate Florida District Court of Appeal within 30 days. These courts may overturn erroneous conclusions of law. However, they may not consider any new evidence.
- Motion for Relief from Judgement: If the 30 days have elapsed or there is new evidence which is extremely compelling, a motion for relief from judgement may be successful. However, these motions are difficult to win.
Many times, a higher court will not reverse a judgment. Instead, the court will send the case back to the lower court for a retrial. Such outcomes are especially common if someone filed a motion for relief from judgement.
Reach Out to Competent Lawyers
Even if the judge’s gavel falls, the Florida divorce may not be over. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Tampa, contact the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group. We are available 24/7/365.