A thoughtful comment was posted to Murphy v.Murphy, digested here. As comments can be almost lost below the fold, I thought this one From Donald W. Aaron in Florence deserved posting in its entirety.
I was in the courtroom for this case when the wife appeared pro se and requested that the judge vacate his custody order. I agree with the CA's statement of the importance of adequate notice of such a life-altering hearing.
Earlier in my career, I had a judge ask me to serve an opposing party directly when no one showed for a post-decree hearing after I only served the prior attorney of record. Now we have an opinion affirming this as good practice.
This opinion is also important in providing protection for attorneys, because "as a matter of law, conclusion of a divorce action terminated the attorney-client relationship."
In the instant case the wife should not have filed an appeal while a "valid" motion to alter, amend or vacate was pending. If the CA found the motion tolled the time for appeal, and her appeal was vacated as premature, then any appeal filed after the first dismissal could have again been dismissed as untimely, the clock having run. Appeals have tricky trap doors, even for experienced trial counsel. Wife was pro se on appeal, as she was credited with an appellate brief.