Even after a couple’s divorce is final in Ohio, either person may wish to appeal or modify the divorce decree. The tendency of an appeals court is to defer to the decision of the original judge, but there are situations in which an appeal may be successful.
Usually, an appeal can only be made if there was an error in the court case, and state and local law must be followed carefully to ensure that the right to appeal is not lost. An appeal cannot consider new evidence. It is necessary to first file a notice of appeal. The clerk’s record and the trial transcript comprise the record on appeal, which must be prepared. Each side must also prepare an appellate brief, or document making the side’s argument. Oral arguments might also be permitted, but they are generally short, lasting no more than half an hour. If the appeals court does not uphold the decision, it must go back for a modification or trial to the trial court.
A modification is less costly than an appeal and may be more likely to succeed. A successful modification should demonstrate that there have been changed circumstances, such as a job change, that are grounds for the modification. When parents ask for a custody modification, the court generally must believe it is in the child’s best interest before agreeing to a custody change.
There are certain situations in which it is likely that modifications will later be made. For example, if parents divorce when their children are very young, there will probably be several changes over the course of the child’s life that might necessitate a change in custody. People who are considering seeking an appeal or a modification to a divorce agreement may want to discuss it with an attorney and get advice about what the next steps should be.