Divorce is part of life. According to data from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), 21,477 couples officially ended their marriage in the state in 2020 alone. As divorce can be stressful, reaching the end of the case can bring a sense of closure. Unfortunately, a divorce decree is unlikely to bring any relief if the court makes a material error.
This raises an important question: Can you appeal a divorce order in Washington? The answer is “yes”—but you must identify valid grounds for appeal and you must act quickly. In this article, our Washington family law appeals attorney explains the most important things that you need to understand about appealing a divorce decree in Washington State.
A Divorce Decree is a Final Judgment From a Court
Simply described, a divorce decree is a final judgment from a court. In Washington, most divorces are uncontested—meaning the parties effectively submit their settlement for approval by the court. However, divorce litigation is certainly not around. If a divorce is contested and litigation is required, a divorce decree will be the final judgment of the court. It can be appealed.
An Appeal is Not a Re-Trial: You Must Identify Grounds for Appeal
It is important to understand how the rules work for appealing a divorce decree in Washington. A family law appeal is not a re-trial nor is it a new trial. Instead, the appellate law process exists to give parties an avenue to challenge serious (material) errors by the court. To appeal a divorce decree in Washington, you must have valid grounds. Some examples of grounds for appeal in a family law case include:
- Abuse of judicial discretion by the court
- A material error, such as misapplication of the law by the court
- Fraud by your former spouse, such as the improper hiding of assets
Strict Deadline to Initiate an Appeal of a Divorce Decree in Washington
Divorce appeals are subject to very strict deadlines. The Washington State Courts explain that an appeal generally needs to be initiated within “30 days after the entry of the decision of the trial court.” Notably, the appeals process is initiated through the filing of a legal document called a Notice of Appeal. Your Notice of Appeal for a divorce decree in Washington State must contain:
- Your identity
- The specific decision or part of the decision that you want reviewed
- The name of the appellate court that you are appealing to
- Payment of all of the required appellate law fees
Contact Our Washington Family Appeals Lawyer for Help
At The Appellate Law Firm, our Washington family appellate attorneys are knowledgeable, reliable advocates for clients. If you want more information about appealing a divorce decree, we can help. Contact our legal team today for a strictly confidential initial consultation. With an office in Seattle, we provide family appellate legal services throughout Washington State, including in Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Renton, Federal Way, Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Vancouver.