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After You Get the Final Order and Judgment

What happens after the case is over?

Make sure to read your final paperwork right away to understand what it says. If you want to file something possibly to change the outcome, there are different deadlines depending on the type of action you may take.

Usually the final judgment or order states the final decision about the issues. For a divorce case, the final documents will end the marriage, include how the marital property and debts will be divided, and restore a maiden name if requested. In a divorce with children and a custody case between unmarried parents, the final documents will state what the parenting arrangement will be and who will pay a specific amount of child support starting on a specific date.

After the final documents are issued, the parties may need to take actions set out in the paperwork. Sometimes this means:

Sometimes one or both people in the case are unhappy with the final decision in the case. It is important to understand that judges make decisions according to legal factors that are set out in the law and previous decisions from the Alaska Supreme Court that interpret the law. If you think the judge made a mistake that caused the outcome, you may have options to file something in court to address the issue. Be aware that just not liking the outcome does not mean the judge made a mistake. Also be aware that there are deadlines to take most actions and if you do not file the appropriate document in time, you may be unable to file it. Read below to see the options and timelines.

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What are the options if I am not happy about the final outcome?

You may have some options depending on how long ago the court issued the final decision and the issues you are unhappy about.

Motion for Reconsideration

You can ask the court to reconsider the decision if it is:

You can file:

Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order

You can ask the court to set aside the judgment or order if:

You can file:

Motion to Modify

To change a child custody or child support order, there is no deadline but there must be a “substantial change in circumstances” from the final order. Learn more about modifying custody or support.

It is difficult to change marital property allocation or spousal support after a divorce is final, but it may be possible depending on the circumstances. Learn about modifying a property division.

Appeal

You can file an appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court to review the trial court judge’s final decision. You need to convince the Supreme Court that the judge made a legal mistake that should be reversed or reconsidered according to specific instructions from the Supreme Court. You must file a Notice of Appeal about child custody issues in custody, divorce, dissolution and domestic violence protective order cases within 15 days from the date shown in the clerk's certificate of distribution at the bottom of the final judgment, decree or decision. For most other civil appeals, the Notice must be filed within 30 days from the date the order was distributed. Learn more about filing an appeal.

You may want to talk to a lawyer to discuss the options if you are unhappy with the final judgment.

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What is a Motion for Reconsideration?

It is a request to the trial judge asking to reconsider a specific ruling. The Motion for Reconsideration must:

You can file:

The Motion for Reconsideration must be 5 pages or less, including the motion and any attachments. Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy that is called serving a motion. Learn more about serving a motion.

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What are the reasons to ask the court to reconsider its ruling?

There are 4 reasons for reconsideration:

1. The court has overlooked, misapplied or failed to consider a statue, decision or principle directly controlling. (This means the court made a mistake in applying the law to the case.)

For example, Civil Rule 90.3 states the child support calculations for different parenting arrangements. If there is one child primarily living with one parent, Rule 90.3 states the other parent is supposed to pay 20% of their adjusted annual income to the other parent for the child support. If the judge figures out the child support amount to be 27% of adjusted income for one child, the motion for reconsideration would state that the judge misapplied Civil Rule 90.3.

2. The court has overlooked or misconceived some material fact or proposition of law. (This means the court got the important fact wrong.)

For example, in a divorce case, the parties agree that the marital home is worth $100,000. However, the judge states that the house is worth $200,000 in figuring out the property division in a divorce case. The husband who was awarded the house could file a motion for reconsideration stating that the judge used the wrong value for the house in dividing the property.

3. The court has overlooked or misconceived a material question in the case. (This means the court misunderstood what you were asking for in your case or in a motion.)

For example, the judge denied a motion to modify finding that there was not a 15% change in the child support amount, even though the child moved from living full-time with Father to Mother. To modify the child support, the legal requirement is there must be a substantial change in circumstances based on:

In this example, the parent that now has the child living with her can file a motion for reconsideration, stating the court overlooked the question of whether there was a change in the parenting plan.

4. The law applied in the ruling was changed by a later court decision or statute. (This means the court applied a rule or law that changed.)

For example, on April 15, 2018, Civil Rule 90.3 changed to allow a parent to deduct the cost of their own health insurance from their gross income (up to 10% of the parent’s gross income). If the court calculated child support on April 14, but did not allow for the health insurance deduction which resulted in a higher child support amount, the parent could file a motion for reconsideration based on the changed Civil Rule 90.3.

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What is the deadline to file a Motion for Reconsideration?

You must file the motion within 10 days after the date shown in the clerk’s certificate of distribution on the written order. You must also provide the specific reason the judge should reconsider the ruling:

It is important to act promptly. If you do not file the motion to reconsider within 10 days, the judge can deny it, even if the reason for the request is a valid one.

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Does the other side get to file a response to a Motion for Reconsideration?

The other side files a response only if the court requests it, which usually happens. If the other side files a Motion for Reconsideration, do not file a response until the court tells you to file one, likely in a written order or notice from the court. See how to respond to or oppose a motion.

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Will there be a hearing on the Motion for Reconsideration?

The court will not schedule a hearing to decide the Motion for Reconsideration, so the court will decide based on the written Motion and any response.

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When will the court decide the Motion for Reconsideration?

The court will either:

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What happens after the Motion for Reconsideration is decided?

If the Motion for Reconsideration is granted, the judge will reconsider the ruling and either issue a new ruling or request more information from the parties.

If the Motion for Reconsideration is not granted or is denied, the parties are supposed to follow the challenged ruling and the party who received the original order or judgment can enforce it.

Either party can decide to appeal the decision about the Motion for Reconsideration if they believe the judge made a legal mistake. Learn more about filing an appeal.

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What is a Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order?

A Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is used to ask the court to set aside or "undo" a judgment or final order in a case, and to allow the case to move ahead as if the judgment had not been made.

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What reasons can set aside the judgment?

There are several reasons to ask the court to set aside a judgment order.

Civil Rule 60(a) provides that a party can file a Motion to Set Aside the Judgment or Order if the court made a clerical mistake or accidentally left something out of a document.

Civil Rule 60(b) specifies the reasons the court may set aside a judgment which include:

Examples of reasons under Civil Rule 60(b) include:

You can file:

Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy that is called serving a motion. Learn more about serving a motion.

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What is the deadline to file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment?

You must file the motion within a "reasonable time" after the judgment. The judge decides what a reasonable amount of time is, and it will depend on the circumstances in the case. Parties should clearly explain why the time in which they filed the motion is reasonable.

In addition to the reasonable time requirement, a party asking to set aside the judgment for one of the reasons listed below must do so within 1 year of the judgment:

It is important to act promptly. If you do not file the Motion to Set Aside within a reasonable time, the judge can deny it, even if the reason for the request is valid.

Make sure to file the original and provide the other side (or their attorney if represented) with a copy that is called serving a motion. Learn more about serving a motion.

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Does the other side get to file a response to a Motion to Set Aside Judgment

The other side can file a response just like to any other kind of motion. See how to respond to or oppose a motion.

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What happens after the Motion to Set Aside is decided?

If the Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is granted, the parties then proceed through the steps in the case as if the judgment or order had not been issued.

If the Motion to Set Aside Judgment or Order is not granted or is denied, the parties are supposed to follow the Judgment or Order and the party who received the original order or judgment can enforce it.

Either party can decide to appeal the decision about the Motion to Set Aside if they believe the judge made a legal mistake. Learn more about filing an appeal.

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Rev. 18 June 2018
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