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Measure Law is a Montana-based firm dedicated to the success of families, businesses, and legacies. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we provide expert counsel in estate, family and business law.

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  • Marybeth Sampsel

How Much Does a Montana Divorce Appeal Cost?

By now you have probably spent thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees getting to trial, just to have the result be less than favorable. If you are considering appealing a decision from a Montana district court in a divorce or parenting case, one of the biggest factors is likely the cost. Like all litigation, the overall cost of a Montana appeal depends on so many factors it can be nearly impossible to predict with certainty. But there are some guidelines that will help you assess the cost of an appeal.

Filing Fees. The Montana Supreme Court assess a $100.00 filing fee when a Notice of Appeal is filed. If you are considering an appeal and are unable to pay the filing fee due to indigency, you may be able to proceed without payment of the filing fee if you comply with Montana Rule of Appellate Procedure 5.

Record/Transcripts. When you initiate an appeal, your lawyer will be responsible for ensuring the full and complete record is transmitted from the District Court to the Montana Supreme Court, including any and all necessary transcripts from hearings or trial. Transcripts can be expensive if your hearing/trial was particularly lengthy. The transcripts from multi-day trials can easily exceed $1,000.00, but a typical divorce trial transcript costs less than that.

Appellate Mediation. If you are appealing a Montana divorce, parenting or family law case, you will have to head back to mediation. The Montana Supreme Court requires mediation in appeals in domestic relations (family law) cases, as well as many other types of cases. Just like mediation at the trial court level, you will have to incur the expense of paying your mediator for his/her time. Depending on how long the mediation takes, that cost can be a few hundred or more.

Attorney Fees. The cost of attorneys’ fees in an appeal can vary depending on how complex the case is, how large the file/record is, and whether or not there is litigation at the district court level to complete the record or to stay the order while the appeal is pending. Although the appellate process tends to be more streamlined than the trial process, it is difficult to assess the total cost until the layers of the onion are peeled back.

Copying/Binding/Mailing. Although the Montana Supreme Court adopted rules for e-filing and your attorney will do a great deal of their filing through that electronic system, printed and bound copies of the briefs will be mailed to the Supreme Court for the Justices’ review. Some attorneys will outsource the copying and binding of briefs to a copy shop. Other offices (like mine) will do the copying and binding in their office.

Like all litigation, appeals are not one-size-fits-all and costs can vary depending on the case. If you are considering an appeal, contact my office to discuss your particular case.