Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Setting Aside a Consent Judgment

Generally, the Florida courts rely on statutory guidelines when determining what constitutes appropriate child support. Parties are permitted to develop their own support agreements, though, which the courts will generally ratify as long as they are in the best interest of the child receiving support. Parties that develop their own child support agreement may face difficulties if they subsequently want to modify the terms of the agreement, however, as shown by a recent Florida ruling in which the court rejected that mother’s assertion that the trial court erred in approving the agreement. If you have questions about your rights with regard to child support, it is wise to consult a Miami child support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father had two minor children together. Subsequent to a paternity action and mediation, they agreed to the court’s entry of a consent final judgment of paternity and relief. In part, the judgment established the father’s paternity as well as his child support obligation, as well as the parties’ incomes and financial health. Additionally, the child support calculations included a future increase in the mother’s income due to an increase in her work hours and a relative reduction in the father’s child support payments.

Reportedly, the judgment included a signed consent that ratified the parties’ settlement language and stated in part that they voluntarily and freely agreed to be bound by the agreement. Seven months after the court entered the judgment, the mother moved to set it aside, arguing that the trial court erred in imputing income to her and noting that her employer did not increase her work hours as contemplated. The trial court denied her motion, and she appealed.

Grounds for Setting Aside a Consent Judgment

On appeal, the court rejected the mother’s argument that the trial court erred when it entered the consent judgment. In doing so, it noted that such judgments are common in family law cases and that parents are free to enter into child support agreements as long as they serve the child’s best interests.

In the subject case, the mother did not allege that the agreement was the result of fraud or misrepresentation. Thus, the court did not err in ratifying the agreement. Further, the trial court did not impute any income to the mother; instead, it accepted the parties’ stipulation with regard to the mother’s future income. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Miami Attorney

Under Florida law, parents have an obligation to support their children financially, but if their economic circumstances change, their rights and obligations with regard to child support may change as well. If you or your co-parent intend to seek child support or a modification of an existing support order, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your options. The experienced lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can inform you of your rights and aid you in pursuing a just outcome. Our office is located in Aventura, and we regularly represent parties in child support matters in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.