Options for Dealing With an Unfavorable Family Court Outcome
Sometimes, cases do not work out exactly the way we think they will. You may not receive the full amount of maintenance or child support that you were seeking, or you might not receive the parenting time you desired. While some decisions cannot be challenged, many if not most can be appealed or petitions may be filed to request reconsideration. In short, in most cases, all is not lost if you receive a denial or other unsatisfactory result.
Appeals and Motions
There are two primary methods through which a request to reconsider may be filed in Illinois. Which one you should use depends on the nature of the perceived problem with your case. If you believe that the judge made an error of law, and your attorney raised the proper objection at the proper time, it is appropriate to file an appeal. The Illinois Supreme Court Rules govern the relevant procedure, and the requirements are strict. You must file your appeal within 30 days of the final judgment’s entry (or the entry of the relevant order, in some situations), and the record is restricted to questions of law. You may not simply re-litigate your case in a new courtroom.
By comparison, if your dispute with the ruling is one of fact rather than law, a motion to reconsider is the preferable option. This is especially true if you acquire new information that has the potential to change the judge’s ruling—or would have done so had it been available at trial. If you file a motion to reconsider and simply argue the same points, your motion will be denied and it is possible that you could face sanctions from the court, depending on whether the court believes you have filed a frivolous or baseless motion.
In Case of Default
Sometimes, a judgment will be entered against you when you have not timely filed a response. This is called a default judgment, and they are generally filed when the defendant in a suit has not responded to the satisfaction of the court. This may occur due to the defendant’s own negligence or the negligence of his or her attorney. It may also occur if there has been some mistake or defect in service of the lawsuit. Either way, it will be necessary to file a motion to set aside the default judgment and allow the proceedings to be reopened.
If you file a motion to set aside a default judgment, and you do so within 30 days after the default date, generally, the judge will be amenable to reopening the case. Illinois law grants the courts fairly wide discretion in that regard. It is in the best interest of all involved to settle cases on the merits rather than to simply send them away due to errors in procedure. If your motion to set aside is not filed until after the 30-day mark, however, it will likely be denied unless you can demonstrate a tangible defect in the service of the lawsuit.
Speak With a Qualified Attorney
When you receive an unfavorable outcome in court, there are certain times when you must abide by that decision. In some situations, however, there are mechanisms that may allow you to attempt to reverse or change the court’s decision. If you are in such a situation, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at MKFM Law today. Call 630-665-7300 to discuss your case and explore all of your available options.