Motion for Revision: A Tool in Family Law

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In King County we have judges and commissioners. While they look the same and do similar things, they are not the same. Both wear black robes and both make important legal decisions. In family law cases, many decisions are made by commissioners on issues like child support and contempt charges for not complying with child visitation requirements. With typical divorces and legal separation cases, commissioners make decisions that are “binding” on the parties. But, what happens when a party does not think the decision a commissioner makes on a particular issue is correct? A judge steps in.

Court orders that are signed by a court commissioner can be “appealed” to a sitting judge. This appeal process is called a “revision” and the motion is known as a “motion for revision”. Normally, the assigned trial judge for the case is the person who will hear the revision. (The local rules indicate this is supposed to be what occurs.) If there is no assigned judge then the presiding judge assigns it to a judge to hear the case.

A motion for revision must be filed within ten days of the court order signed by the court commissioner. Once the motion is noted, it can take weeks for it to be heard, but, as long as it has been noted within the proper time frame, the right to appeal the issue is reserved.

The party who is asking for the revision is referred to as the “moving party”. That person asking for the motion for revision is required to send to the judge, all of the papers that were used at the original hearing. Unlike typical motions, parties can not submit any new papers to the judge. The “reviewing” judge can only see and review the papers used at the original hearing.

Every hearing in family law courts are recorded, either with audio or with video. For a revision hearing, the moving party must also get a copy of the tape and provide it to the assigned judge so he or she can review it. The cost is $25.00 for the DVD which is ordered in the records department of the clerks office.

The judge may agree with everything the court commissioner decided, but they have the authority to make any changes that the moving party has asked them to make. It’s common that parties will seek revision on child support orders and maintenance, among other things.

If you’ve had a hearing with an attorney or pro se and are unhappy with the result, your smart choice is to consult a family law attorney and see if a revision is a good choice for you given your situation. Contact Miller Law Group for a free consultation if you think you may have an issue that needs a revision hearing.