There is usually a short amount of time, usually 30 days, after a court enters its order dividing the property of the parties in which a party can ask the court to reconsider its decision. The party asking the court to reconsider its ruling may argue that the court made a mistake in understanding or in applying the law to the facts, or that some new evidence (that could not have been discovered beforehand) arose after the court reached its decision that makes the court’s decision unfair.
A party can also seek to change a court order or settlement agreement dividing property based on fraud or duress. For example, if one party lied about the amount of his or her assets and the other party later found out that the former hid a substantial amount of assets, the court could vacate the property division. Duress occurs when one party is forced into an agreement by extreme, unfair pressure from the other party; such actions could cause a court to vacate its property division. Duress exceeds the common stressors of a divorce and must be a very high amount of pressure from the other party. Sometimes the period of time for seeking to change the property division based on fraud or duress is longer than the time period for seeking reconsideration.
Another option is to appeal the trial judge’s decision to an appellate court. The decision to appeal must be made promptly — usually within 30 days — after the trial judge’s decision.
Michelle May O’Neil, president of O’Neil Attorneys and a Certified Family Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is nationally recognized as a leader in family law. She focuses on child-custody disputes, complex marital-property litigation, and family-law appeals. May also acts as a mediator for other attorneys in resolving family-law disputes.