Appealing a MN Divorce Decree

People sometimes ask about appealing a case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  Generally speaking, it is difficult to overturn a judge’s decision on appeal.  But, like all of us, judges are human and they make mistakes.   Sometimes an appeal is necessary.

What follows is not legal advice.  You have not retained Fiskum Law or MN divorce lawyer Dan Fiskum unless you have a signed written retainer agreement.  With this disclaimer, I’ll say the following about appeals:

Under the current MN Rules of Civil Procedure, a party has 60 days from the date a divorce Judgment and Decree was entered to notice and file an appeal.  However, if you believe you want to appeal your case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, do not wait until the 59th day.  Preparing an appeal takes a significant amount of time, and it cannot be done in one day.

For post-decree orders other than a final divorce judgment and decree, a party has 60 days to appeal, counting from the date of service of notice of entry of the order by the opposing party.  Generally, temporary orders, that is, orders entered during the time the proceeding is pending, are not appealable. 

Appeals are expensive.  The court filing fee for the Minnesota Court of Appeals is $550.  The appealing party is also required to post a bond with the district court, or to deposit $500 in lieu of bond with the district court administrator.  However, the cost of the bond can vary depending on the financial value of the issued involved on appeal.

The appealing party needs to purchase a copy of the transcript from the trial.  Typically these cost $3.50 or so per page.  A transcript can be several hundred pages in length, so the cost can be very significant.  The appealing party also needs to purchase eleven copies of the appellate brief.  The cost of printing and serving the appellate brief can be hundreds of dollars.

Of course, then there is the attorney time.

So, before you consider appealing your divorce judgment to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, you need to consider very carefully what you stand to gain and weigh that against the costs of appeal.

One other point–before appealing to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a party has the opportunity to as the district court judge to amend the findings and judgment.  This is actually necessary step in any appeal, because it changes the appellate standard of review and makes it somewhat more favorable to the appealing party.  Usually, judges do not change their minds.  However, I have had many cases where I successfully brought a motion for amended findings and an appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals was not necessary.

A motion for amended findings needs to be scheduled within 30 days of the date the judgment was entered.

So, if you are considering an appeal, do not waste time.

The foregoing is not legal advice and does not create an attorney and client releationship between the reader and Fiskum Law, or MN divorce lawyer Dan Fiskum.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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