Attorneys at Berman, Bourns, Aaron & Dembo have a comprehensive understanding of the appellate process and particular experience in handling family law matters in Connecticut's Appellate and Supreme Courts: we represent clients seeking to appeal decisions regarding alimony, child support, and/or property division, among other divorce issues. Appellate cases require unique methods of legal representation that are distinct from trial level work. In order to succeed on appeal, one must convince a judge or a panel of judges that the trial court made an incorrect decision. Our attorneys possess the requisite skill and diligence to thoroughly analyze the trial court record and find grounds for reversal, which may involve:
- A judge's failure to follow controlling legal principles
- An abuse of discretion
- A decision not based upon substantial and/or credible evidence
Appeals address misinterpretations or misapplications of the law, and do not reference new evidence or testimony. Rather, an appellate court considers the trial court's record of events and ensures that legal findings properly reflect the unique facts of the case.
Challenges to Excessive Alimony and Child Support Awards
The trial court is given broad discretion in awarding alimony and child support; however, it must consider all relevant statutory criteria pertaining to financial awards, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- The causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage, or legal separation
- The age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, and needs of each of the parties
- The desirability of a parent's employment if he or she has been awarded custody of minor children
Appellate courts have found financial orders to be logically inconsistent with the facts, and in such cases, often order a new hearing or trial to correct erroneous alimony and/or child support awards.
Inequitable Divisions of Marital Property
Connecticut is an "equitable distribution of property" state, meaning that a court will distribute marital property in the fairest way possible to both parties. The factors that determine fair property distribution are similar to those that determine alimony and child support, but the trial court must also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition of the capital assets and income. The trial court is accorded broad discretion when distributing marital property; however, if one party receives an unfair benefit as a result of the trial court's determinations, the other party may be able to successfully appeal the decision. Also, appellate courts have reversed decisions when the parties never came to an agreement regarding the value of the marital property and/or the amount of their debt.
Timing of Appeals
Connecticut law generally requires appeals to be brought with 20 days of the trial court's final judgment. Therefore, if a trial court's final judgment fails to reflect your family's needs and goals, it is imperative to contact a skillful appellate attorney with family law experience as soon as possible. Our firm has extensive experience representing clients on the appellate level, especially in family law matters, and our attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients protect their interests and achieve a fair resolution.