Sometimes the judge in your family law case may decide against you on one or more key points. However, you may still have options. There are several procedural tools a skilled family law attorney can use to help correct judicial mistakes, or to get your case back on track.
When You Lose Because of Default
Most family court petitions must be answered within a short period of time, usually 30 days, or you risk losing by default. If you have a default judgment entered against you, you will need to file a motion to vacate the default judgment.
If the default was entered less than 30 days ago, judges are usually willing to vacate the default judgment and allow the case to continue. Judges would prefer to have a case decided on the merits and facts and not on pure procedural grounds.
However, if the default has been entered more than 30 days ago, you may need to show that there was some defect in the petition or the service of the petition that caused you not to respond on time.
Motions to Reconsider
After a court has issued a final decision, a motion to reconsider can be filed with the court. This motion should be filed within 30 days of the entering of the final judgment. It is not enough to simply file a motion and argue the same facts that were argued at trial. Instead, some new evidence or fact that was unavailable at the time of the trial should be presented.
The new evidence or fact should be significant enough to warrant a change in the outcome if the judge had been able to hear it earlier. Motions to reconsider can also give parties more time to file a formal appeal.
Even judges sometimes make mistakes. An appeal can be filed to correct mistakes of law. If the judge failed to interpret the law correctly or misapplied the law to the facts, you can file an appeal and ask an appeals court to correct the mistake.
Appeals must be filed within a short time after the final judgment, often within 30 days. There are two levels of appellate courts in Illinois—the courts of appeals and the Illinois State Supreme Court. The appeals process can take a year or more, depending on the circumstances of the case.
If you have questions about family law, you need to speak with an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. today at 630-665-7676 to schedule a consultation.