Can You Challenge a Divorce Decree?



The final ruling following a contested divorce trial can be disheartening. Depending on the nature of the case, you might leave the court angry or dissatisfied. However, the divorce ruling becomes an official decree immediately after the judge signs it. If you made an out-of-court settlement with your spouse, the judge usually incorporates the final marital settlement agreement into the final decree.

A divorce decree primarily outlines an individual spouse’s rights and responsibilities, especially concerning child support, custody, property division, division of retirement accounts, and debt allocation. While this process is final, you can appeal a divorce decree in the appellate court with the help of a spousal support lawyer.

Valid Grounds for Appealing a Divorce Decree

Unfortunately, you can’t appeal a divorce decree just because you are angry or the decree wasn’t favorable to you. In most states, including Colorado, a divorce decree appeal should be filed within 30 days. The appeal should be based on claims that the current judgment is erroneous and will potentially harm or cause injury, significant expense, and damage to one party if implemented.

The party filing the appeal should prove that the judge made an error or mistake in interpreting the law, depending on the circumstance of the case. However, an appeal isn’t an opportunity to challenge facts that were established during the initial proceedings. Unless there is proof that the facts established by the lower court are untrue, the appellate court can’t change anything.

The standard of proof in divorce appeals solely rests on the presence of evidence of intentional acts by one party to mislead the court. Valid grounds for filing a divorce decree appeal include:

  • Cases of fraud: If an enjoined party commits fraud that affects court proceedings
  • Concealed assets: If the other party fails to divulge all assets during the proceedings.
  • Discovery of new facts: New assets discovered during or after the case are solid grounds for appeal.

You can also challenge the divorce decree if the court didn’t consider losses your business suffered or miscalculated the worth of assets.

Options for Challenging a Divorce Decree

You can contest a divorce decree through the following options:

  • File an appeal: It is one the most common avenues for challenging court cases, including divorce decrees. However, it is time-consuming and involves several complexities. The appeal should be filed within 30 days, and parties aren’t allowed to introduce new facts about the case.
  • Motion for rehearing: You can also challenge the decree by filing a motion for rehearing. The motion should be filed immediately just after the judgment is issued. However, it doesn’t guarantee that your divorce case will be reheard.
  • Motion for relief from judgment: This motion is granted on limited occasions, such as when one party commits fraud or conceals assets. It should only be filed if the basis for an appeal directly affects the fairness of the judgment.

You should pay close attention to deadlines when filing an appeal. Missing the deadline voids your right to appeal.


You can file an appeal for your divorce decree. However, the appeal isn’t a new trial. The appellate court can either uphold the lower court’s decision, modify the original order, or suspend the lower court orders for the case to be retried.