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How Does the Family Law Appeals Process Work in New York?


After a decision from the court – whether regarding divorce, child custody, or a support order – it can be expected that not everyone will be happy with the outcome. When one spouse or parent believes the court’s decision was inherently unfair or erroneous, they have the right to appeal that decision.

In matters of family law, ex-spouses may choose to appeal decisions regarding child supportchild custodyspousal maintenance, or equitable distribution. To do so, they must take certain steps and go through what is called an appellate court. Here in New York, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division handles appeals.

In order to appeal an unfavorable court order and win that appeal, you must have a very strong reason to believe an error occurred in the decision-making process. This can include errors like misuse of information, or misinterpretation of the law. Simply being unhappy with the judge’s decision is not enough to succeed on an appeal.

As the person contesting the order, you are the appellant, and the other party is the respondent. An appeal is also called an appellate case. When an appellate case goes before the appellate court, the court reviews the same evidence from the previous case. It is not a “re-do” of the court case.

Each party can submit written briefs and present oral arguments to the court. If the appellate court determines the judgement was made in error, they can either:

  • Reverse the decision;
  • Send it back to lower court for reconsideration; or
  • Modify the decision.

If the appellate court finds no error was made, they will affirm the original decision.

The appeals process begins when you and your attorney file a Notice of Appeal with the court. You have 30 days from the date of the order or judgement was served with a Notice of Entry to file a notice of appeal. You have the same amount of time to appeal temporary orders as well. Filing an appeal as soon as possible allows you and your attorney to “start the clock” and begin preparing your documentation.

An important thing to note is that appealing a court order does not put a hold on an order going into effect. If you want to put an order on hold and delay its enforcement, you must file an application for a stay. You can do this with the help of your attorney, who will likely first request a stay at the trial court level, and if that is unsuccessful, will petition the appellate court for a stay.

Please keep in mind that the appeals process can be time-consuming and complicated. Cases may take up to a year or more to resolve. The appellate court will need to be provided with extensive records and transcripts of trial proceedings. Before seeking appeal, consult with experienced lawyers to ensure you are taking the right course of action.

The matrimonial and family law attorneys at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein, LLP bring decades of combined experience to the table, and advocate for your and your family’s best interests. Contact our offices today for informed guidance about your case. We represent clients in and around New York City, Westchester, and Bergen County, New Jersey. Schedule your consultation today by calling (212) 466-6015 or reaching out to us through our contact form.