Appealing Your Case

Certain decisions made by a trial judge may be reviewed by a higher court. In Illinois, trial courts are appealed to the appellate courts, which in turn may be appealed by the Supreme Court. This process applies to all civil cases in Illinois, including divorce, parentage, and the related topics.

If the judge who presided over your case misapplied the law, made a mistake in their ruling, or otherwise abused their discretion, Stern Perkoski Mendez can help you appeal your case. A successful appeal may result in a change in the trial court’s ruling or otherwise a remand, in which the case is sent back to the trial with specific instructions to correct the alleged error.

What is an appellate case?

Before diving into appellate cases, it’s important to understand the three levels of state courts:

  1. Circuit Courts: There are 25 judicial circuit courts (also known as trial courts) in Illinois. This is where divorce trials begin.
  2. Appellate Courts: There are five courts of appeal in Illinois, broken up by district. This is where appellate court judges review circuit court cases to determine if the law was correctly applied. A large majority of appealed divorce cases will end here.
  3. Supreme Court: There is one supreme court in Illinois. Divorce cases rarely go from appellate court to the supreme court. However, if you and your attorney believe the appellate court misapplied their standard of review, and there’s a legal issue, you can go to the supreme court.

A judge will do his or her best to properly apply the law and use their discretion. However, this uncertainty and nuance can mean that not every trial court outcome is the right outcome.

You may have grounds to appeal your case if:

  • You are unhappy with specific outcomes for a legitimate reason, such as the misapplication of the law, an abuse of discretion or other form of judicial overreach, or the failure of the court to properly consider the evidence;
  • There is a logical and/or legal reason for the outcome to be deemed incorrect;
  • There is a tangible way to correct the outcome.

Typically, entire divorce cases aren’t appealed—only orders or provisions of a judgment go to appellate court. For example, you may be happy with every ruling of your trial case except child custody. In that scenario, you would want to appeal the child custody provisions and not, say, the child support provisions.

How do I appeal my trial case?

In the state of Illinois, a divorce is appealable within 30 days of the final decision being issued.

If the law was misapplied in your divorce case or an unreasonable decision was made, please reach out to our Stern Perkoski Mendez office today—and we can help you begin the appeal process. Our divorce and family law attorneys will guide you every step of the way.

Will my appellate case be successful?

An appellate case’s outcome is often determined by the standard of review, as well as the skills and knowledge of your attorney. The standard of review varies is the framework in which the appellate reviews the decisions and rulings of the trial court. The appellate court’s standards of review vary depending on the case and issues.

For most issues in a divorce case, abuse of discretion is the standard of review. In a trial court, a judge makes certain discretionary decisions based on evidence, facts, circumstances and testimonies. When the appellate court judges review discretionary decisions, they may overturn a ruling if the trial court judge abused his or her discretion.

The standard of review is complex, but it’s also the foundation for the success of your case. This is why it’s important to hire an attorney with an in-depth knowledge of the law.

How does Stern Perkoski Mendez support appellate cases?

At Stern Perkoski Mendez, we welcome the chance to appeal your divorce case—and work toward the resolution you and your family deserve. Our expert attorneys will approach your case with exceptional research, negotiating and communication skills, and a deep understanding of appellate law. And we hope this expertise puts you at ease throughout a challenging, life-changing process.

Contact Our Divorce and Family Law Firm in Evanston, Chicago and Oak Brook

If you’re ready to appeal your divorce case, please contact us today. We’ll ensure the right attorney takes your case and swiftly acts to submit your appeal.

Contact us online for a free consultation or give us a call at (847) 868-9584. We can meet you at our offices in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest or Oak Brook, or a location that’s convenient for you.


Our boutique family law firm is based in Evanston, Chicago, Lake Forest and Oak Brook. We serve clients across Cook County and the North Shore, as well as Lake, DuPage and Will Counties.


“The best decision I could ever make was to choose Nancy to represent me in my divorce. She is professional, detail-oriented, and always on top of everything. I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a knowledgeable attorney and positive results.”

Azra, Oak Brook

For a free consultation, call Stern Perkoski Mendez at (847) 868-9584 or contact us.