In any divorce case, the parties may choose to resolve their disputes through a settlement agreement. However, it is not uncommon for one party to revoke their consent to the agreement after the mediation process, but before the court enters judgment. What happens in such a situation?
For instance, a couple goes through the mediation process and reaches an agreement. The husband, wife, and the husband’s attorney all sign the settlement agreement, but the wife’s attorney does not. The husband files the agreement with the court and moves to enter judgment. Before the court renders judgment, the wife files a motion to revoke her consent to the agreement and objects to the entry of a decree.
The Court’s Ruling
The court holds a hearing, and although the wife was represented by counsel during mediation, her attorney did not sign the settlement agreement. The court ultimately rules in favor of the husband and signs a decree based on the agreement, despite the wife’s objections. The decree submitted to the court, however, contains terms that are materially different from the settlement agreement.
What Can Be Done?
In such a situation, what can be done? The court may sign the decree, but it does not render a judgment on the settlement agreement, which means that the agreement is still open for negotiation. The court may retain plenary power to modify its earlier rendition of judgment, and the parties may renegotiate their agreement. If the court signs a decree with materially different terms, it operates as a “consent judgment” which may be enforceable.
It is important to note that a party’s revocation of consent to a compliant settlement agreement has no effect on the court’s obligation to render judgment. The court may still enter a judgment based on the agreement, unless there are valid grounds for revocation or modification. In the event that there are differences between the agreement and the decree, the court may modify its judgment to reflect the parties’ new agreement.
In conclusion, if you are facing a situation where your spouse has revoked their consent to a divorce settlement agreement, it is essential to seek legal advice immediately. An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance on how to proceed and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.