The Procedure for Filing an Appeal
Sometimes a Family Court judge hands down a decision that needs to be appealed. An appeal is the process by which you take the Family Court Order that is wrongly decided and ask a higher court, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey, to fix it. When the order you want to appeal is a final order, you have an automatic right to appeal it. If it is an order that is not final, perhaps a temporary custody arrangement while the action is pending, you do not have a right to appeal it. Instead, you have to ask the Appellate Division if they will allow you to appeal the temporary order, called an interlocutory order. Here, the discussion is on appealing a final order, one that ends your case.
An appeal is started (“taken”) when a copy of a Notice of Appeal and request for transcript are served on all the other parties in the action, the court that made the order being appealed from, and the original Notice and attachment are filed with the Appellate Division that will be hearing your appeal. This must happen within 45 days of receiving Notice of Entry of a final order. If the order terminates parental rights, then you only have 21 days to file and serve your Notice of Appeal and attachments. If the order involves claims of juvenile delinquency, there is an additional requirement that a copy of the Notice and attachments be served on the county prosecutor within 3 days of filing.
Notice of Entry is when you or your attorney receives formal notice that your order has been entered with the court. This notice may come from the court or one of the other attorneys. If you miss these deadlines for filing, you have lost your right to appeal, but for extremely limited circumstances.
Once your appeal is taken, you need to pay a $300 fee to the Appellate Court; your attorney has to put together the record on appeal, research and write the brief supporting your appeal and a myriad of other activities. The record, called an Appendix, is limited to a very specific list of documents from the lower court including parts of the transcript.
The brief and Appendix have to be bound and served on the court and parties within 45 days of your receiving the transcripts requested with your Notice of Appeal, or within 45 days after filing the Notice of Appeal under certain other circumstances. The other side has 30 days to respond, and then you have 10 days to reply to the other side’s response. If either side wants an oral argument on the case, it must be requested, otherwise, the Appellate Division will make a decision on the papers submitted. I recommend you read the related article titled “New Jersey Appellate Division’s Review of a Family Court Order on Appeal” that is located on this website.
If you thinking about appealing a Family Court Order, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation at 201-845-7400 today.