Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

How long is too long to wait for a final judgment of divorce to be signed in Florida? In one recent case, the parties waited 2 and one-half years! Because of circumstances that arose during that time, the wife appealed the final judgment and today we examine how the appellate court viewed the delay. 

In the case Johnson v. Johnson, 2D16-4890 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), the parties had a final hearing. Typically, after a final divorce hearing, the judge either prepares the final judgment or instructs one of the attorneys in the case to prepare it. In this case, it is not clear who was responsible for preparing the final order, but while the parties were waiting for it to be entered, the wife tried unsuccessfully to file motions to amend the evidence because of her alleged declining health. 

In determining whether or not a delayed judgment should be set aside, an examination must be made of  "(1) the existence of conflict between the judge's statements or findings at trial and the ultimate judgment entered and (2) the presence of unsupported factual findings in the final judgment." The Florida Judicial Rules of Administration state that a judgment must be rendered within a reasonable amount of time after the final hearing, which in family law cases is presumed to be 180 days. 

The appellate court agreed with the wife that the delay in entering the final judgment was unacceptable, especially considering the intervening health issues the wife alleged. Additionally, the court disapproved of the trial court's finding that the wife was not entitled to permanent alimony. The case was remanded with instructions for the court to conduct a new hearing with a successor judge. 

This case illustrates the importance of having a Florida divorce lawyer on your side, helping you to navigate the system. Contact a Miami divorce attorney to set a consultation to go over your rights and remedies.