What Are the Provisions of Rule 1.540 That Do Not Affect the Finality of a Judgement or Decree ?
In D.F. v. Department of Revenue, 823 So.2d 97 (Fla. 2002), the Court recently held that a final judgment of dissolution of marriage which establishes a child support obligation for a former husband is a final determination of paternity and any challenge to this determination must be brought under the provisions of rule 1.540. Rule 1.540, entitled "Relief from Judgment, Decrees, or Orders," states in relevant part:
(b) Mistakes; Inadvertence; Excusable Neglect; Newly Discovered Evidence; Fraud; etc. on motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party's legal representative from a final judgment, decree, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial or rehearing;
(3) fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
(4) that the judgment or decree is void;
(5) that the judgment or decree has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment or decree upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment or decree should have prospective application.
The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2), and (3) not more than 1 year after the judgment, decree, order, or proceeding was entered or taken.
A motion under this subdivision does not affect the finality of a judgment or decree or suspend its operation. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, decree, order, or proceeding or to set aside a judgment or decree for fraud upon the court.