Posted on behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA
After reading about the high asset divorce of billionaire Harold Hamm and his ex-wife, a lot of people probably have questions about how the process works. The Oklahoma court found that Mr. Hamm owed his ex approximately $1 billion dollars from the asset division of their marital property, but it turns out that both parties are appealing the court’s decision. Both parties are claiming that the court got it wrong, one is arguing the amount is too low, the other is arguing it is too high. So what happens now?
In Maryland, all family law cases start off in the Maryland Circuit Courts, where the judge takes a look at the facts presented by both parties and makes decisions on matters where the couple cannot agree or as required by law. The Circuit Court’s order is binding, but if a party thinks that the court made an error on a matter of law or judgment, they still have the right to appeal the Circuit Court’s ruling. These appeals are heard by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals usually consists of panels of three appellate judges, which review the issues on appeal and issue rulings supporting the findings of the Circuit Court or overruling it. In some cases they may remand the case back to the Circuit Court for more fact-finding, which is sometimes necessary in a complex asset division or child custody case.
In a complex divorce, it is very possible that the court made a ruling that a party does not agree with, and if there is legal support for their position, they may wish to appeal to a higher court. The appeals process may not be as involved as the original district court process, since the appeals court is most likely only considering a few of the issues in the case and they generally do not accept or exhaustively review new evidence. However, the appeals process can take time and can be quite complex, so people should consult with a Maryland family law attorney who has experience with appeals before proceeding.
Source: Findlaw “Appealing a Court Decision or Judgment,” accessed Jan. 18, 2014