paper people chain and gavelMichelle Connell is one of the few lawyers in North Carolina who is Board-certified in both family law and appellate practice.  And as of last week, she’s now part of our appellate team!

I’ve always been amazed at just how many family-law appeals are heard by our Court of Appeals.  Pull the latest annual statistical report, and you’ll see:  about 20% of that court’s civil docket consists of domestic cases—divorce, equitable distribution, child custody, child support, alimony, and so on. … Continue Reading

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has started off 2018 with a trend of clarification.  As we noted last week, in this year’s first batch of opinions the Court clarified the applicable standard of review for a trial court’s decision on whether a party has waived a contractual right to arbitration. And now after the year’s second batch of opinions was released earlier this week, appellate practitioners have further clarity: if the record on appeal does not contain a certificate of service for the order or judgment being appealed and the appellee seeks to dismiss that appeal on the grounds that it was untimely, the burden of showing when actual notice was received is on the appellee. … Continue Reading

One sentence of Rule 3(c) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure provides: “If timely notice of appeal is filed and served by a party, any other party may file and serve a notice of appeal within ten days after the first notice of appeal was served on such party.”

If one party appeals from a final judgment, what can be included in the other party’s cross-notice of appeal?… Continue Reading

You should always file your notice of appeal as soon as possible, right? Wrong. This is one instance in which being early can actually be detrimental to your client’s rights. In Mannise v. Harrell, the Court of Appeals determined that a notice of appeal filed too early was improper and could only be reviewed by writ of certiorari.

The case involved a domestic dispute between two parents in which the defendant father moved to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction.… Continue Reading

In 2013, a new statute took effect allowing for immediate appeal from certain interlocutory orders entered in family law cases.  N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-19.1.  In that context, it is not uncommon for a lawsuit to contain claims for divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution.  Sometimes, those claims can, and are, decided separately and at different times. … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court of North Carolina long ago observed that “the ‘substantial right’ test for appealability of interlocutory orders is more easily stated than applied.” Waters v. Qualified Pers., Inc., 294 N.C. 200, 208, 240 S.E.2d 338, 343 (1978).  As “[n]o hard and fast rules exist” for determining whether an interlocutory order affects a substantial right, North Carolina appellate courts have long analyzed whether an interlocutory order affects a substantial right “on a case by case basis.”… Continue Reading

Sometimes the North Carolina Court of Appeals encounters an appeal that gives it a case of the Mondays. Hill v. Hill is a case that, according to Judge Steelman, “appears to embody all of the flaws that could possibly create an abominable appeal of an equitable distribution judgment.”  Not the type of characterization of their work product that most attorneys like to hear.… Continue Reading

Whether you rarely practice in the North Carolina appellate courts or have a copy of the Appellate Rules tabbed, highlighted, and scribbled-upon, you have likely heard that there are many highly specific “style” requirements imposed by the Rules and the attached Appendices.  Fonts, margins, spacing, periods–why do these things matter?

That’s too big a question to tackle in one post.  But let’s focus on one such item of minutia: date stamps (a/k/a “filed stamps”). … Continue Reading

Family law appellate practitioners have one of the most difficult jobs in the bar.  They have to master the complicated family law statutes and the quirks of District Court practice, navigate the treacherous waters of the Appellate Rules, and, to top it off, understand how those two realms interact in the appellate arena.  In short, their job is scarier than a six-foot tall teenager with no costume demanding candy at your door an hour after trick-or-treating was supposed to have already ended.… Continue Reading