If you disagree with a decision from a Maine court in a divorce or other family law case, you may be able to file an appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court. The attorneys at Libby O’Brien Kingsley & Champion are experienced in family law and have had success in appealing family law judgments to the Maine Law Court.
The Appellate Process in Maine
An appeal starts by filing a notice of appeal and a transcript order form with the trial court. In most cases, the notice of appeal must be filed within 21 days of the date on which the trial court issued the decision being appealed. After the case is docketed with the Law Court, the trial court will send its file to the appellate court.
After the Law Court receives the trial court’s file and any transcripts that have been ordered, it will issue a briefing schedule. The party bringing the appeal, referred to as the “appellant,” must file a document called a brief, which explains the factual and legal reasons why the trial court’s decision should be changed or vacated. The party opposing the appeal, referred to as the “appellee,” may also file a brief defending the trial court’s decision. Finally, the appellant may file a reply brief responding to new material raised in the appellee’s brief.
In some cases, the Law Court will schedule an oral argument after the briefs are filed and before issuing a decision. At an oral argument, each party is allotted 15 minutes to argue their positions and respond to questions from the Justices.
A decision may be issued at any time after the Law Court either holds an oral argument or decides to consider the case on briefs. The Law Court will not consider new evidence or otherwise conduct a redo of the trial, but it may consider whether the trial court abused its discretion, whether its factual findings are supported by the evidence, and whether the trial court misapplied or misunderstood the law.
Hiring an Appellate Attorney
Appeals are sometimes necessary. Although any attorney can file an appeal, an attorney specializing in appellate advocacy brings a specialized skill set to the table that will maximize your chances of winning an appeal. Whether you are seeking to appeal a trial court decision about parental rights and responsibilities, custody, visitation, child support, alimony (known as “spousal support” in Maine), or attorney fees, the attorneys at Libby O’Brien Kingsley & Champion are experienced appellate attorneys with a successful track record who are well equipped to evaluate your case and represent you on appeal if appropriate.