To use a turn of phrase, the best appeal is the one you never have to take.   In other words, the best time to work towards a resolution in court you are happy with is before the judge enters an order.

That means hiring a good lawyer at the beginning of your case.

Sometimes though, things don’t tun out as you hope.  That’s when the issue of a possible appeal comes up.

At Allen and Spence, we can help you evaluate if it approach and reasonable to appeal an order in your case.  In North Carolina, trial judges have broad discretion in most family law matters and the court’s decision can be hard to overturn.  However there are rules and standards that the court must comply with and we can help you evaluate the technical issue to see if an appeal is right for you.

Time is Not on Your Side.

If you are considering an appeal, you must act quickly.  The time for an appeal is thirty days from entry of the order or judgment in civil cases.    That is a very fixed deadline.

An appeal of your family court decision begins with a Notice of Appeal. This document must be filed in your case within the appeal time.

Appeals are very complex.   They are even more complex than your district court family case because there are special rules and a myriad of things to be done to carry your case through the stages of an appeal.  These include Notice of Appeal, Record on Appeal, Brief, motions and oral arguments.

The Role of the North Carolina Court of Appeals

Once both parties have filed their briefs, a panel of three judges will review the case and arguments. While most family court appeals do not have an oral argument stage, it is an option in very complex cases.

An important part of most appeals is that the Court of Appeals is not going to regarding-do the case.  In other words, the facts are what was presented at trial and the appeals court simply reviews the judge’s decision for certain kinds of legal errors or abuse of discretion by the trial judge.

If you win your appeal, then case is likely to be sent back (“remanded”) to the district court to be re-determined in light of the ruling of the appeals court.


Raleigh family law attorney Scott Allen handles appeals and has over twenty-eight years of experience.  If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at

Allen and Spence, PLLC
3737 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 863-4183

Scott Allen
Amanda Spence

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