If you have ever been through a divorce process, you probably know that it can drag on for what seems like an eternity. Divorces have a nasty reputation for being a sluggish process, especially if the divorce is going to be litigated. Even more staggering is the time it takes to appeal a divorce judgment. There are three important things to remember when considering whether or not to appeal a judgement:
- Is the order a final judgment?
- If a final judgment is rendered, one only has a limited number of days to file a Notice of Appeal.
- If it final judgment is not rendered, did the court certify the order as final?
These above issues are addressed in this appeal related divorce case from Winston County, Alabama. In the case of Harrison v. Harrison, the wife filed a petition for divorce in 2011. The husband filed an answer and counterclaim asserting that the parties had entered a prenuptial agreement in 1985. The wife contested the validity of the prenuptial agreement. Four years later, the trial court entered an order ruling the prenuptial agreement to be valid. Accordingly, the wife filed a notice of appeal.
The Court of Civil Appeals ruled that the trial court’s order finding the prenuptial agreement to be valid was not a final order. The trial court did not divorce the parties nor dispose of the parties’ property; therefore, not all claims and controversies were resolved and a final order could not be rendered.
In Williams v. Williams, the Court of Civil Appeals determined that they had jurisdiction to consider an appeal from an order declaring a prenuptial agreement invalid when the trial judge had certified the order as final under rule 54(b). Williams v. Williams, [Ms. 2130615, Nov. 14, 2014] So. 3d (Ala. Civ. App. 2014). However, the case at hand is unlike Williams v. Williams. Specifically, the trial court did not certify the order validating the prenuptial agreement as final under rule 56(b).
The important takeaway from this case is whether or not the trial court certified the order as final pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 54(b). In the case at hand, the trial court did not certify the order; therefore, this case was prematurely appealed.
The above case demonstrates just how long a divorce can take. Particularly, the wife started the divorce proceeding in 2011, and in 2015 a final judgment had yet to be rendered. It is imperative to seek out an attorney who is highly skilled in appellate law to assure that your case is being handled efficiently. If you believe that the trial court has rendered the wrong decision, please act timely and seek out an attorney who can best advise you on whether the trial court has violated your legal rights.
If you filing for divorce or in need of a prenuptial agreement, contact Birmingham divorce lawyer, Joseph A. Ingram at (205) 335-2640.