Appealing a Family Court Decision

I want to Appeal…

If one party in a family court matter does not like a ruling of the court, he or she has the right to appeal the decision. 

In almost all cases, if a case is appealed, it is done after the district court has made its final decision.

In Minnesota the district court judges and referees make family court decisions.

Therefore, “appealing” a family court decision means to request that a court higher than the district court (in this case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals) review the decision.

Appealing a family court decision in Minnesota is difficult for multiple reasons.  

  • First, there are stringent procedural requirements which must be followed.
  •  Second, only a small percentage of family court cases get overturned.

The Appeal Process

1. In order to file an appeal, a filing fee must be paid and all of the documents necessary for the appeal must be properly served on the other party and filed with the court.

Keep in mind that the procedural requirements for the Appellate court are far stricter than district court. Failure to file or serve properly will result in your appeal getting kicked out if the deficiencies are not corrected.

2. After properly filing and serving, parties are typically required to attend appellate mediation. If that mediation fails to resolve the issue, the parties will move to the appellate court.

3. Going to appellate court involves submitting documents that argue the case and finally arguing before a three-panel group of appellate judges. 

how to make an appeal

* Keep in mind that only represented parties are permitted to argue before the judges.

4. After the arguments, the judges will eventually provide the parties with their decision which may either:

a. affirm (uphold) the trial court’s decision,

b. reverse and remand (overrule and send the case back to the trial court), or

c. some combination of both.

If you are considering appealing a family court decision, you will be significantly handicapped if you do so without the assistance of a family law attorney.


MN Family Law Attorney & Majeski Law, LLC. are not endorsed by nor affiliated with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.