Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Procedure

What happens if there is a trial in your Miami family law case, and then before the court enters the final judgment setting child support, you lose your job? This happened to one woman in Florida which led to her appealing the trial court's decision to deny her motion to receive new evidence. 

In the case Loftis v. Loftis, 208 So.3d 824 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), there was a final hearing, but the court took eleven months to enter a final judgment. Before the final judgment was entered, the wife filed a motion to reopen the case to offer new evidence, stating that she lost her job and therefore the child support calculations should be reconsidered. In the final judgment, the wife was granted 1/3 of the overnights with the children and was ordered to pay child support to the husband based on her then-salary. 

The husband opposed the wife's motion, stating he would be prejudiced and that reopening the case would incur significant additional discovery. When the trial court denied the wife's motion to re-open, the wife appealed. 

The appellate court cited the broad discretion that trial court has to allow a party to reopen a case, indicating four factors to consider when deciding whether to re-open a case: "(1) the timeliness of the request, (2) the character of the evidence sought to be introduced, (3) the effect of allowing the evidence to be admitted, and (4) the reasonableness of the excuse justifying the request to reopen."

Based on these factors, the appellate court sided with the lower court's decision to deny the wife's motion, stating: " In this case, granting Former Wife's motion would have effectively put the case back to square one, further delaying entry of a final judgment, allowing further discovery, and essentially requiring a new trial. While granting the request would have been well within the trial court's discretion, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion."

The wife might still be able to file a petition to modify the final judgment, citing her lost of income as a substantial change in circumstances. Proper modification of your Miami child support order may start with a consultation with a Miami family law attorney.