If you’re considering appealing a Family Court Order, it’s important to understand the process and time limits involved.
This article explains how to obtain permission to appeal, valid reasons for making an appeal, the procedure for filing an appeal, and the powers of the Appeal Court. Seek legal advice promptly to determine if an appeal application is appropriate for your case. Contact Alex Clarke, a highly experienced family law solicitor, for a consultation.
There are a wide variety of reasons why you might be considering appealing a Court Order made in a Family Court. When making an application to appeal a Family Court Order, you will need to consider the following:
We will also consider the powers available to the Court if your appeal application is successful in this article.
Part 30 of the Family Procedure Rules (“FPR”) provides us with the rules regarding your ability to make an appeal application. Under these Rules, a relevant party requires permission from the Court to appeal a Court Order made in the Family Court. The exception is where the appeal is against the decision of a magistrate.
An application for this permission can either be made at the Family Court at the hearing where the Order you are seeking to appeal was made; or, to the Appeal Court in an ‘Appellant’s Notice’.
If you make an application to appeal an Order at the hearing where the Order was made and your application is refused, you can still apply to the Appeal Court after the hearing.
Where the Appeal Court refuses your application without providing you with a hearing, you will still be able to request that they reconsider their decision within 7 days of your permission being refused.
The Court will only grant you with permission to appeal where it considers that there is a real prospect that your application will succeed or where there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard. If an appeal is permitted, it may also be granted on a limited basis or it could be subject to certain conditions.
Please be aware that where an application for permission to appeal has been granted by the Court, this will not mean the previous Court Order is no longer in force. Unless the Court specifically directs otherwise, that Court Order will remain in place and it is therefore important you continue to comply with any directions under that Order.
When making an appeal application, you will need to consider the reason why you are seeking to appeal the Court Order.
For example, you should not be looking to appeal a decision made in a Family Court because you disliked or you disagreed with the outcome of a particular Court Order generally. The Family Court has wide-ranging powers available to it, and it has wide discretion when it comes to making Court Orders. Therefore, an application made for these reasons will be very unlikely to succeed.
You will therefore need to consider if the reason the Court Order was made is because there was a serious mistake, omission or error in either the law or procedure applied by the Family Court when considering the facts of the case or when making its’ determination. In other words, the Court Order itself must be wrong in law or otherwise unjust for some other serious procedural reason. It is important that you focus your application on these reasons for your application to stand the best chance of succeeding.
You may also wish to consider if some other type of application to the Court is more appropriate in your circumstances. For example, where there has been a significant change in your circumstances since the Court Order was first made; or, where there has been material non-disclosure of information in financial proceedings – it is more likely that the appropriate application will be for a variation, discharge of that Court Order or for the Court Order to be set aside rather than an appeal application.
The amount of time passed since the Court Order was made will also be a very relevant consideration given the Court’s time limits on making appeal applications. Please see below for further details on these time limits.
Understanding when a specific law or court procedure has been incorrectly applied by the Court can be a complicated and nuanced exercise and you should seek swift legal advice to determine if you have proper grounds for your appeal application.
To make an appeal you must apply to the Court in an ‘Appellant’s Notice’. As detailed above, this Appellant’s Notice must be made to either the Family Court at the hearing where the Court Order was made, or as an application to the Appeal Court. A copy of any Appellant’s Notice must also be served on the Respondent and any other relevant third parties. Please see below for further information on the time limits for filing and serving an Appellant’s Notice.
As a Respondent, you must file a Respondent’s Notice if you wish to seek permission from the Court to either appeal a Court Order; or, where you are seeking to uphold an Order, and you would like to provide additional reasons for maintaining the Order other than those considerations already provided by the Court.
As a Respondent, you will also need to file any application within the relevant time limit after you have been served with the Appellant’s Notice where permission to appeal has been granted by the Court. You will then need to serve a copy of the Respondent’s Notice on the Appellant or any other relevant third parties within the relevant time period.
It is important that you make your appeal application within the time limits set by the Court. Whilst you do have an ability to make an application to vary or extend these time limits for filing your Appellant’s Notice, parties are unable to agree to any extension of these time limits between them by consent. Therefore, only the Court has the power to extend these time limits.
Please see below a list of time limits for making an application and serving various documents which may be relevant to your circumstances.
The Appeal Court does have a number of wide ranging powers available to it when considering your appeal application.
The Appeal Court can either affirm the previous Court Order made by the Family Court; vary that order; or, set it aside completely. The Court can also refer the application or issue it back to the Family Court for a hearing; and, make orders in respect of costs.
The Appeal Court must also consider its’ power to make a Civil Restraint Order where it believes your application was without merit, and this type of Order could limit your ability to make further applications to the Court.
A successful appeal of a Court Order often requires very specific knowledge of Court procedure, the law and the Court system in general. You should therefore seek legal advice promptly to decide if an appeal application is appropriate for you.
As part of these considerations, you will need to determine if you have a valid reason for why you intend to make an application and if the Court would be willing to accept those reasons. You will also need to make any application within the time limits set by the Court.
Alex is a highly experienced solicitor who has been qualified for over 4 years. Alex specialises in all areas of Family Law including divorce, finance and children cases.
With a wealth of experience in these areas, Alex is well-versed in handling divorce proceedings, financial remedy proceedings, child arrangement proceedings, and negotiating and drafting agreements by consent outside of the court.
If you are facing a difficult divorce, complex financial matters or difficulties in agreeing child arrangements, Alex has the knowledge, expertise, and experience to guide you through the legal process and help you achieve a favourable outcome.
Contact Alex today to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific case and circumstances.
Tel: 0207 183 8340
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