How to Appeal a Family Court Decision in North Carolina

Understanding the Appeals Process in Family Court

Family court decisions can significantly impact the lives of those involved. If you feel that a family court in North Carolina has made a legal error in your case, you have the right to appeal the decision. An appeal is a legal process that allows you to ask a higher court to review the family court's decision for any mistakes in the application of the law or procedural issues.

Steps to Appeal a Family Court Decision in North Carolina

  1. Notice of Appeal: The first step in appealing a family court decision is to file a Notice of Appeal with the clerk of the superior court where your case was heard. This notice must be filed within 30 days of the judgment or order you are appealing.
  2. Record on Appeal: After filing your Notice of Appeal, you need to prepare the Record on Appeal, which includes all relevant documents, evidence, and transcripts from your family court proceedings. This record provides the appellate court with the necessary context to review your case.
  3. Briefs: Both parties will have an opportunity to file briefs. In your appellant brief, you will argue why the decision should be overturned, referencing specific legal errors or procedural mishaps. The appellee can file a response brief to counter your arguments.
  4. Oral Arguments: In some cases, the appellate court may schedule oral arguments where both parties can present their points before the judges. Not every appeal will have oral arguments; some are decided on the briefs alone.
  5. The Appellate Court's Decision: Once the appellate court has reviewed all materials and heard arguments, if applicable, it will make its decision. The court can affirm the family court's decision, reverse it, remand it with instructions for further proceedings, or modify it.

An example of a notable family law case in North Carolina is Jones v. Jones, where an appellate court reviewed and reversed a lower court's ruling on child custody due to misapplication of custody statutes.

Potential Outcomes of an Appeal

If you decide to appeal a family court decision, it is highly recommended that you seek legal counsel experienced in appellate practice. Appeals are complex and require a deep understanding of legal principles and procedures. For more guidance on North Carolina's appeals process, you may refer to the North Carolina Court System's official website at