Read that settlement agreement carefully before you sign it. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals says it’s binding on you, even if you later regret it. The Court, ruling in the case of Wilcoxen v. Wilcoxen, Case No. 2030834 (Ala. Civ. App. February 18, 2005), said that
agreements reached in divorce actions are as binding on the parties as any other contract. Porter v. Porter, 441 So. 2d 921, 923 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983); see also Junkin v. Junkin, 647 So. 2d 797, 799 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994). However, although such agreements are binding on the parties, they are not binding on the trial court. Porter, 441 So. 2d at 924. A trial court has the discretionary authority to permit a party to repudiate an agreement in contemplation of divorce if that party is able to show “good cause.” Culver v. Culver, 651 So. 2d 21, 23 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994). “Good cause includes ‘fraud, collusion, accident, surprise or some other ground of this nature.'” Culver, 651 So. 2d at 23 (quoting Borders v. Borders, 597 So. 2d 1373, 1375 (Ala. Civ. App. 1992)).>
e wife argued that the trial court had abused its discretion by failing to vacate her divorce judgment. She said she did not consent to the terms of the settlement agreement she had signed. The problem with her case was that she presented no documentation to support her claim. The Appeals Court affirmed the trial court on this issue.
On another issue, however, the Appeals Court reversed the trial court. The trial court committed a common mistake, ruling on child support without ensuring that the appropriate child support forms (CS-41 for both parties, CS-42, and CS-43) were part of the record.
The trial court could have deviated from the guideline child support, but it was required to make sure it had the benefit of all applicable information about the guidelines first, and then (if necessary) establish the basis for a deviation. Because the court didn’t do this, the Appeals Court reversed on the award of child support and instructed the trial court to obtain the appropriate child support forms.