Question from Karen, How Can You Challenge a Default Judgment in a Florida Child Custody Case?
Answer from AI:
If you are involved in a child custody case in Florida and a default or default judgment has been entered against you, it may be possible to have it set aside so that the judge can consider evidence you wish to submit. Here are some general guidelines on how to approach this situation:
Setting Aside a Default or Default Judgment
To set aside a default or default judgment in Florida, you typically need to file a motion with the court. This motion should explain why the default was entered (for example, if you were not properly served with court papers or if there was a misunderstanding) and why the court should allow you to present your case. The following are common reasons a court may set aside a default judgment:
- Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party
- The judgment is void
- The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged
- A significant change in circumstances regarding child custody
Requesting a Hearing
In your motion to set aside the default or default judgment, you can also request a hearing. This would give you an opportunity to present your case in person before a judge. The court has discretion to grant or deny a hearing based on the information provided in your motion.
If time is of the essence, as it often is in child custody matters, especially around important dates like Christmas, you may request an expedited hearing. In your motion, you should explain why an expedited hearing is necessary. Courts often prioritize cases that involve the welfare of children, but it is ultimately up to the judge to decide whether to expedite your hearing.
If the judge grants your motion to set aside the default judgment and schedules a hearing, you will have the opportunity to submit evidence. It is important to be prepared with all relevant documentation and witnesses that support your case for custody or visitation.
Given the complexity of child custody cases and the importance of the outcome, it is highly recommended that you seek legal advice from a family law attorney. An attorney can help you draft your motion, gather evidence, and represent you at the hearing.
While there is no guarantee that a judge will set aside a default judgment or expedite a hearing, taking prompt and proper legal action increases your chances. Remember to:
- File a well-prepared motion to set aside the default or default judgment.
- Clearly explain the reasons for setting aside the default and the urgency of the matter.
- Request a hearing and, if necessary, an expedited hearing.
- Consult with a family law attorney for personalized legal advice.
For more information on family law procedures in Florida, you can visit the Florida Courts Family Law Self-Help Information. Remember, this information is not a substitute for personalized legal advice, and you should consult with a legal professional for assistance with your specific situation.