Appeals in Family Law Cases: ILLNOIS Child Support, Custody, Property Division and Maintenance

February 21, 2012

When can a judge's order be appealed? The answer is: it depends.

Most cases require that a final order has been entered and that it is one which is appealable. Some cases, particularly those involving the welfare of children, are appealable at any time. Other issues may be appealable but must be brought at the proper time. This whole area is a minefield fraught with danger. Many lawyers cannot figure out the correct timing of a family law appeal because of the various rules.

Generally, most trial court orders must be appealed within 30 days of entry. This is very strictly interpreted. Filing too late can and will end your appeal. Filing too early will also result in your case being dismissed.

You may be able to file an emergency appeal in a case involving child custody.
This is not a do-it-yourself job. Find an attorney who is experienced in family law appeals. Do your homework and have copies of your case records to bring to the attorney.

I represented a woman in a divorce case in an appeal of an order which awarded her attorney a large amount of fees. She said that this sum included time he spent with her having sex in his office. This was listed as a, "client conference," on his bill.

She had a sexual relationship with her attorney when he represented her during her divorce. The attorney tried to collect his fees by selling her home at a sheriff's auction. Fortunately, she retained another law firm and was able to stop the sale pending an appeal. A case must be appealed within 30 days of entry of the order being appealed. If there is fraud, duress or undue infuence, the time may be extended, as it was in this case. The court allowed the case to proceed because the woman was persistent in trying to have the trial judge change the terms of the divorce regarding attorney's fees.

In this landmark case, MARRIAGE OF KANTAR, 414 NE 2d 77, 90 IL App 3d 941 (1991), the Illinois Appellate Court overturned the award of attorney's fees to the lawyer who billed his divorce client for sex. She convinced the appeals court that the trial court order was unfair to her because of the sexual relationship with the attorney she trusted.

At the time this case was heard, an attorney was not prohibited from having a sexual relationship with a client. Now the law has changed. It is prohibited nowadays under most circumstances. It has always been and is to this day, a very unwise thing to do.

If you have an issue which you believe should be appealed, please contact me:

Law Offices of Janet Rubel
Suite 500
555 Skokie Blvd.
Northbrook, IL 60062