Divorce Attorney - Appealing a Divorce in Louisiana

Sep 14 08:00 2011 Will Beaumont Print This Article

Knowing the steps necessary to file an appeal, along with the appellate standard of review, should help guide your decision-making.

Often times,Guest Posting an ex-spouse gets an unfavorable decision from the trial court. When this happens, it is important to know the appellate standard of review in such cases. Sometimes the trial court’s judgment may warrant a reversal. But we will learn, that most of the time, the trial court’s ruling is affirmed. Because the trial court has the opportunity to observe live witness testimony, its credibility findings are given high deference. At the appellate level, the court simply reviews the trial court’s record. A divorce attorney generally does not submit new evidence to the appellate court.

For example, a judgment ending a marriage may be immediately granted if a spouse has committed adultery. However, the trial court must make a factual finding ruling that the other spouse did in fact commit adultery. The Louisiana Supreme Court has stated that the complaint must allege that adultery has actually taken place. It cannot simply state a series of events which may lead a person to infer that adultery had taken place. Nonetheless, the trial court will review the record. And if the allegations are proven by the other spouse’s divorce attorney, then the district court should immediately grant the judgment.

The opposing party may then seek to appeal. Before proceeding to an appellate court, it can be vital that you and your divorce attorney understand the burden which you must prove and the likely the court may grant you relief. First, where there are discrepancies in trial testimony, the appellate court will likely not disturb the trial court’s inferences and conclusions unless they are unreasonable. So for example, let’s say Al and Matilda stand before a trial court. The testimony at trial is conflicting. Matilda’s boyfriend on-the-side takes the stand and says they’ve never cheated. However, video surveillance reveals both of them coming out of a hotel at 4am. As such the trial judge draws the inference that the two were cheating. In this case, the appellate court will most likely conclude that the trial court’s inference was a reasonable one. As such, they may affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Let’s look at the opposite scenario a divorce attorney may face. There is conflicted testimony at trial. Spouse takes stand and says I’ve never cheated. However, the other spouse’s divorce attorney introduces evidence that spouse ate lunch every day with Sarah. As such, the trial court inferred that the two were cheating. In this case, the appellate court may reverse the trial court’s ruling because it seems unreasonable to conclude that she was cheating on her husband just because she ate lunch with Sarah every day.

Sometimes, there is a fact pattern that is not clear cut. The line between what is reasonable and unreasonable can get hazy. For example, Al and Queen Latoya are married. One day, they get in a big verbal fight. Al storms out the door and says I’m going to Cancun, Las Vegas, and then Miami where I can meet some real women. Shortly thereafter, Queen Latoya’s divorce attorney files to end the marriage based on adultery. Al takes the stand and testifies he did not cheat on his wife when he visited the aforementioned cities.

What should a trial court do in this situation? Would it be reasonable to infer that Al cheated on his wife while he was in Cancun, Las Vegas, and Miami? Or should the court believe Al’s testimony at trial? Here there is no clear cut answer. Reasonable minds can disagree. Accordingly, the appellate courts of Louisiana have asserted that reasonable decisions made by the trial court based on the record will not be reversed even though the appellate courts themselves may have viewed the evidence differently. In a nutshell, if the trial court’s decision is a reasonable one, then the appellate court will likely not reverse.

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Will Beaumont
Will Beaumont

A Metairie divorce attorney will be there for you when you are overwhelmed with the situation. For help with family law matters visit: Beaumont Divorce of Metairie, 3814 Veterans Memorial Blvd #302, Metairie, LA 70002, (504) 834-1117 or Beaumont Divorce, 3801 Canal Street #207, New Orleans, LA 70119, (504) 483-8008.

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