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What Happens When a Case is Remanded by an Appeals Court?

In North Carolina, parties to a case may be able to file an appeal if they believe the trial court made a mistake of law or legal procedure.[1] Appeals courts analyze decisions by the trial courts to determine if the law was applied appropriately and to ensure there were no conduct errors. There are a few potential rulings that the appeals court can make.

Appeals Court Rulings

It is important to remember that an appeal is not intended to give the appealing party a chance to retry their case and hope for a better outcome. Appellate courts only decide on legal aspects of the trial court’s ruling. Once a decision is made, the appeals court will likely do one of the following:

  • Remand the case to the lower court
  • Uphold the lower court’s ruling

There are other options available to the appeals court, such as issuing sanctions or vacating an order, but remanding and upholding are commonly occurring decisions. If the decision is upheld, the ruling from the lower court will stand and remain in effect. If the appeals court rules to remand the case, it will give the case back to the court that made the prior ruling.

If you believe a trial court erred in your recent family law case, there may still be time to file an appeal. Speak with the Greensboro divorce lawyers at the Woodruff Family Law Group to find out if your case is eligible for appeal.

Can Remanded Orders be Appealed?

Once an appeals court decides that the trial court needs to revisit its prior ruling, that may not be the end of the appeals process. If the lower court’s remanded ruling also has errors of law or legal procedure, a subsequent appeal may be an option. That’s what happened in the case of Foxx v. Foxx.[2]

In Foxx, an Equitable Distribution Order was entered in January 2018, and both parties appealed. In this first appeal, the appellate court vacated the order because they found that the lower court’s decision did not consider relevant distributions and that an incorrect legal standard was applied to Defendant’s personal injury and worker’s compensation claims.

The trial court then issued a remanded order in February 2021 that increased Plaintiff’s share of the marital estate and decreased Defendant’s share. Defendant appealed again. This time, the basis of the appeal was that the trial court did not have the authority to change the distribution because that was not the issue that was raised in the first appeal. Defendant also claimed that there were not sufficient findings of fact to support the change.

On the first point regarding the trial court’s authority, the appellate court disagreed with Defendant. However, it did agree with Defendant’s argument involving findings of fact. The appeals court stated that the lower court had the discretion to change marital share distributions, but such decisions must be based on evidence submitted in the proceeding rather than on the existing record. The appellate court remanded the case a second time.

Going back and forth between courts can become exhausting and discouraging, but having a Greensboro divorce lawyer advocating and supporting you throughout this process can remove much of the burden. The Woodruff Family Law Group has decades of experience that can be put to good use in your divorce case.

[1] North Carolina Judicial Branch. Court of Appeals.

[2] Foxx v. Foxx, 2022-NCCOA-223, 872 S.E.2d 369.