South Carolina Family Court Appeals and Post-Trial Motions

South Carolina Family Court Appeals and Post-Trial Motions

My case is over, but I’m unsatisfied with the result. Do I have options?

If you are reading this blog, your case is likely over, but you’re unhappy with the outcome.  The Court has very strict rules that you must follow when challenging a decision. It is imperative that you understand these rules.

What is a Motion to Reconsider?

A motion to reconsider is a post-trial motion where you to ask the Judge who heard your case to amend his or her ruling.  This is done for two primary reasons: One, you believe the Judge misunderstood your case, which led to the wrong decision. Two, the Judge failed to rule on an issue in your case.

Many attorneys are hesitant to file motions to reconsider suggesting that the Judge ruled in error, unless it can be quantified.  For example, if the Judge missed a statutory factor (such as work-related day care costs) when calculating child support, it might be appropriate to file a motion to reconsider. 

Filing a motion to reconsider because the Judge missed an issue is more straightforward.  For example, if you requested child support but the Judge did not address child support at all in the order, it is appropriate to ask the Court to reconsider.  In my practice, I am generally inclined to file a motion for this reason. 

It is important to note that it’s imperative to file a motion to reconsider if the Judge missed an issue.  If you do not, you forfeit the right to file an appeal on the issue.  The appeals court will not consider an issue that was not considered at the trial level first.

How much time do I have to file a Motion to Reconsider?

Motions to reconsider are governed by the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.  Rule 59 gives you ten (10) days to file the motion after you receive the written order. 

What is an Appeal?

The purpose of an appeal is to challenge an order because you believe the Court made an error in applying the law to the issues laid forth in your case.  For example, a decision on child custody is determined by a statutory set of factors.  You may wish to file an appeal if the Judge failed to consider those factors, or if he or she utilized a different set of standards to make a determination in your case.

How much time do I have to file an Appeal?

To initiate an appeal, you must file a “Notice of Appeal.”  The Notice must be filed within thirty (30) days of receiving the original written order.

Can you file an Appeal as well as a Motion to Reconsider?

Yes.  However, the motion to reconsider is filed first.  Filing a motion to reconsider puts off (stays) the time you have to file an appeal until the Motion to Reconsider can be decided.  After the motion is decided, you again have thirty (30) days to file the Notice of Appeal.

Can I present new evidence during my Appeal or Motion to Reconsider?

Simply stated, no.  If you fail to present evidence or address an issue during your trial you are unable to do so with an appeal.

Please remember that each case is unique and the information discussed above can often affected by a number of factors.  Therefore, do not take this blog as legal advice and be sure to consult with an attorney.

If you have any questions about divorce, child custody, or family law in general, we urge you to contact us.  In order to be flexible and convenient, we have open office hours, and easy appointment scheduling. Contact us today and schedule your confidential consultation.

Our law office serves people across the Upstate, South Carolina, including: Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Pickens, Laurens, and Oconee counties.