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Appealing North Carolina Divorce and Family Law Cases

  • What is an Appeal?
  • What are Grounds for an Appeal?
  • What Happens at the Court of Appeals?
  • Should I Appeal My Case?
  • Do I Need a North Carolina Appeals Attorney?

What is an Appeal in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, family law cases are tried in District Courts. If you believe the District Court made a mistake in deciding your case, you can ask a higher court – the North Carolina Court of Appeals – to review the decision. Also, in some cases, you can request review by the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

You must file a “notice of appeal” within 30 days after the final order is entered by the District Court judge in your case. To meet appellate filing deadlines, you should consult with an experienced appeals lawyer immediately if you feel an appeal is appropriate in your case.

What are the Grounds for Appeal?

You cannot appeal the decision in your case just because you don’t like the outcome. You must have grounds. Grounds for an appeal are that the District Court judge made a mistake in how the law was applied in your case, or the judge abused his or her discretion in deciding your case – for example, the judge did not understand the facts.

What Happens in the Appellate Courts?

The Court of Appeals will look at the evidence presented in your case and review how the District Court judge applied the law in reaching his or her decision. The Court of Appeals will only review the evidence as it was presented to the District Court judge – it will not review new evidence or testimony. Generally, the appellate review is made on the written record with no oral arguments.

After the appellate review is completed, the Court of Appeals will decide to either reverse, remand, affirm or affirm and modify the District Court’s order. The appellate order may pertain to all of, or only parts of, the District Court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals will reverse the decision in your case if it finds the District Court decided your case wrongly. (At that point, the decision in your case will be vacated.) Your case will be remanded if the Court of Appeals decides the District Court needs to rehear your case. The decision in your case will be affirmed if the Court of Appeals finds the District Court was correct in its ruling. The Court of Appeals may also modify parts of the District Court’s decision.

Should I Appeal my Case?

District Court judges are given broad discretion in deciding family law cases and are not likely to be overturned unless the Court of Appeals determines the trial judge abused his or her discretion. Appeals cases are complicated endeavors which can be costly to pursue. They can take a year or more to be decided. For these reasons, it is wise to consult with an experienced appeals lawyer in North Carolina to determine whether your case qualifies for an appellate review – and whether it is worth the time, effort and money it would take to prevail at the Court of Appeals.


Greenville NC Appeals and Family Law
Attorney Cynthia Mills

Your future will be determined by the legal action you take today! Insure that you take the right path and secure what matters most to you and your family. Let me help you through the uncertainty and emotional stress of your family legal crisis with skill, experience and dedicated representation. Email or call me at 252-752-6161.