Appealing the Divorce Master’s Report and Recommendations
If the parties in a divorce action are unable to reach an agreement on their own as to the division of the marital estate, the decision will be made by the Divorce Master. In rendering his or her decision, the Divorce Master will issue a Report and Recommendation after a full hearing. If either party does not feel that the Report and Recommendation of the Divorce Master is fair, they have the option of appealing the decision to the Judge by filing “exceptions” to the Report and Recommendation. The exceptions process will typically require a legal brief to be filed, making specific arguments to support the position that the decision was flawed. The exceptions must be filed within twenty (20) days of the date of Divorce Master’s decision, or else the Divorce Master’s decision will become final. The other party will have the opportunity to file their own exceptions brief within twenty (20) days of receipt of the first party’s exceptions brief.
An appeal in a divorce case is first reviewed by one of your county’s Common Pleas Court judges. The judge reviews the exceptions briefs filed by both parties and may decide to uphold the Divorce Master’s decision or overturn it in whole or in part. The judge could choose to alter the equitable distribution awards to both parties, to change the terms of an alimony award, or to make any other changes to the Divorce Master’s decision.
Generally, the Court reviews the exceptions briefs without a hearing and issues its order. In some cases, the Court may hear arguments on the exceptions, after which it will issue its order.
If a party is unhappy with the Court’s decision, that party has the right to appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court within thirty (30) days. That process also involves filing a brief setting forth the reasons for the appeal and supporting that party’s belief that the Divorce Master and Judge made the wrong decision based on the record.
If you are interested in learning more about the process to appeal a Divorce Master’s Report and Recommendations, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.