In North Carolina, family law cases are appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. This court is located in Raleigh and is made up of 15 elected judges, who hear cases in three-member panels. The Court of Appeals reviews cases from the trial courts for errors of law. The Court of Appeals does not hear new evidence, but decides cases on the evidence submitted to the trial court and on the parties’ written briefs, and in some cases, the oral arguments of the attorneys. Once the Court of Appeals has decided the case, there is also the potential of a further appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court, our State’s highest court, which consists of seven elected Justices. The cases decided by the Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court create legal precedent for future cases. Therefore, strong research, legal writing, and advocacy skills are vital to the success of your family law appeal.
Before October 2014, domestic litigants could appeal only either a final judgment or order which resolved all outstanding claims or, in limited instances, a decision that affected a substantial right. Since most domestic cases consist of several claims joined in one action that are typically litigated at different times (and often over a protracted period of time), a ruling on one claim could generally not be appealed until all the other issues in the case were concluded. An interlocutory attempt to appeal a single claim, when other claims in a case remained pending, was deemed non-appealable. The General Assembly has now carved out a family law exception to the general rule against interlocutory appeals. Now, final rulings on individual claims of absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board, child custody, child support, alimony, or equitable distribution may be immediately appealed. This significant change in appellate law and procedure has broadened the scope, nature, and importance of appeals in family law cases.
Few firms in the state offer the benefit and privilege of a specifically dedicated appellate litigation practice group, as we do, and no firm can match our appellate experience with family law issues in particular. Our Appellate Litigation practice group was founded by K. Edward Greene. Judge Greene served as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals for 16 years, authoring numerous family law decisions before retiring as that Court’s Senior Associate Judge. In addition to Judge Greene, our team includes two attorneys who are certified by the North Carolina State Bar as Appellate Practice Specialists and one of whom is also a certified Family Law Specialist. Collectively, our appellate attorneys have handled more than 200 family-law related appeals.
The Wyrick Robbins Appellate Litigation practice group provides full-service appellate representation through the highest state and federal appellate courts. Whether you are appealing an adverse judgment or defending against an appeal, our team can help you navigate the appellate process. This includes working with trial counsel to identify and preserve important appellate issues, enforcing and defending against the enforcement of judgments and awards during an appeal, and delivering high quality briefs and arguments to the appellate courts. Call us if you need assistance with an appeal.