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What Are Appeals and How It Works in the Legal System? (Legal Rights)

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What Are Appeals and How It Works in the Legal System?

In family law, decisions made by the Family Court of Australia can significantly impact the lives of the parties involved. However, there may be circumstances where you believe the court’s decision is unjust or incorrect.

In such instances, knowing what are appeals and when to appeal a Family Court decision becomes crucial.

Key takeaways

  1. An appeal against family court order is a request to review and change a Court’s decision. In the context of family law, this may be appropriate if there’s been a significant error in the application of the law.
  2. The appeal process begins with filing a Notice of Appeal with the Federal Circuit and Family Court within 28 days. The notice must outline the grounds for the appeal of the original decision.
  3. Once the Notice of Appeal is filed, the other party involved is served with a copy. They have the opportunity to respond, which can significantly influence the appeal’s outcome.
  4. It’s crucial to adhere to procedural fairness, prepare draft index lists, and follow the court’s procedural orders. This will increase the chances of a family court appeal success rate.
  5. The appeal process can be complex and varies by jurisdiction, such as in the Northern Territory. Seeking legal advice and understanding specific laws and procedures is recommended.

What are appeals?

An appeal is a request to review and change the decision of a Court. An appeal might be appropriate if you believe a ‘gross miscarriage of justice’ or if the judge made a significant error in applying the law. It’s important to note that an appeal is not a chance to reargue your case or present new evidence. An appeal is a review of the original decision based on the evidence and arguments presented at the initial hearing.

Generally, a Full Court of three judges will hear the appeal.

court ruling on a property

Beginning the appeal process

The appeal process begins with filing a Notice of Appeal with the Federal Circuit and Family Court. This must be done within 28 days of the original decision. The Notice of Appeal should clearly outline the grounds of appeal family court example, explaining why you believe the original decision was wrong. A filing fee is associated with this process, which varies depending on the case’s complexity.

Once the Notice of Appeal is filed, the other party is served with a copy. They can respond to your appeal, agreeing or arguing against your points. This is a critical stage in the appeal process, as the other party’s response can significantly influence the outcome.

Ensuring your best chance of success

To ensure you have the best chance of success, it’s essential to adhere to procedural fairness and follow the procedural orders set by the court. This includes preparing a draft index for the appeal book. This collates all the documents from the original hearing relevant to the appeal. These documents are crucial for the appeal judges to understand the case and decide on the appeal.

The appeal is then heard at a procedural hearing. The judges will review the submitted documents and any responses from the other parties. The judges will then decide based on the law and the arguments presented.

Appealing a Family Court decision in Australia is a complex process, and you should seek legal advice before proceeding. It’s also worth noting that the appeal process can differ in areas like the Northern Territory. It’s essential to understand the specific laws and procedures in your jurisdiction.

showing the symbol of fairness in law (1)


In conclusion, appealing a Family Court decision is a serious step that requires careful consideration and preparation. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but if you believe there has been a significant error in your case, it could be a viable option. Understanding the appeal process and ensuring you adhere to all procedural requirements can increase your chances of a successful appeal.

Shanahan Family Law has extensive experience working on family law appeals. Our friendly team can walk you through the process and help you understand your options. 

If you need help with family law matters, contact us for a free discovery call.

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Luke Shanahan Family Law

Luke Shanahan


Luke Shanahan is the Principal Solicitor of Shanahan Family Law. Luke has been practising family law since 2008 and started his firm in 2014. He has three beautiful daughters and a supportive, gorgeous wife. In his spare time, Luke enjoys playing tennis and trips to the beach with family and friends. 

Luke is dedicated to providing the best possible legal representation for his clients. His experience and passion for family law set him apart from other solicitors. You only have to read their 5-star reviews to understand that.

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