Should I consider a Wisconsin divorce appeal?

A Wisconsin divorce appeal is generally rather difficult to win.  There are two main reasons for this.  First, a Wisconsin divorce appeal is reviewed under the discretionary standard.  This means that, for issues of property division, child support, maintenance, and child custody/placement, the judge has discretion to make a “reasonable” order based on the testimony and credibility of witnesses.   Even if the appeals court might have disagreed with the trial judge’s decision, it will not overturn it unless it was (a) a misuse of discretion or (b) based on a legal  error.

Second, a Wisconsin divorce appeal is not a “do-over” of the divorce trial.   The appeals court does not hear more testimony or accept more evidence.  The appeals court only reviews the testimony and documents from the trial.  The lawyers only file written legal briefs explaining their arguments.  In a perfect world, the lawyer presented evidence at trial with a possible appeal in mind.  Doing that ensures that all the necessary information and arguments are brought up at trial.  If not, the client is prevented from making an new argument or presenting new evidence on appeal, and the issue is waived.

It is important to find out prior to filing the appeal if it would be worth the  cost and effort.  First, it may take up to a year or more from the end of trial until  a decision is received from the appeals court.   The amount of legal research and evidence review for appeals is also lengthy, and therefore the cost can be substantial.   These are important considerations to discuss with your Wisconsin divorce lawyer before committing to an appeal.

Finally, the deadline to file an appeal can be as short as 45 days, and cannot be extended.   Therefore, if you have any question whether an appeal is possible, you MUST consult a Wisconsin divorce attorney immediately.   The review of evidence and related law will take some time, and most good lawyers will not accept such heavy work one day before the filing deadline.

All this being said, if the trial judge made a legal error, or if the order simply does not fit with the evidence, a successful appeal is certainly possible.  I have worked on many Wisconsin divorce appeals, and am willing and able to consult with you.  Together, we would decide whether an appeal is wise and, if so, how best to present it to the court. I encourage you to call me for a consultation.

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About the Author: David Kowalski


  1. Dear Mr.Kowalski ,
    I am writing, or pleading for guidance through this corrupt divorce case I just experienced. My attorney seemed fine, but during the year +, he had back surgeries, and constantly on pain meds. He would mis-pronounce my ex’s last name in court (yes, that was my name too).This was held in Iowa Co, my ex lives, with parents in a small town. The system there, seemed to dislike Madison completely. t the end, they did tell me, If I would to move closer to my ex, his family etc, I’d have a better chance on getting my kids for longer than the summer. There is so much more, I stayed at DAAS, the woman’s shelter, for abuse, and that is why I left, but I was put down for living, knowing I didn’t have a car (he sold it) nor monies for my children. He’s very manipulative, is bi-polar,bi personality, and a pathological liar. He has gotten me fired from my teaching job, claiming, I am on drugs (i did a drug test when he first started claiming this) negative of course, plus I had to pay the testing. Now I owe child support, the judge or commissioner, clocked me at 33,000 a year, and said she believes I can make a whole lot more, but I choose not to. I just started my career, he’s been abusive in ways, that he gets away with it. There’s so much much more. My anxiety, depression, all tese factors, I’ve never experienced before, My papers were signed, I believe June 1st,2017 . Sir, he had a DI, last year, with a BAC of .25%, and stoled from his employor. But between the ad lidem (which she never met me, but my ex had a whole evening with her). I just can’t, or don’t know what to do. I don’t have the monies. Been through two attorneys, this is my first divorce, his 3rd. I didn’t realize, Oh please, even a ‘good luck’, would mean something.

    1. Thank you for contacting us. I encourage you to call our office at 608-709-5000 for a no-cost phone consultation when we could discuss this situation in greater detail. It sounds rather complex. We look forward to speaking with you.

      David Kowalski

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