Wilkinson v. Wilkinson (5th DCA)

After a divorce trial, the court issued an oral ruling.  The wife then submitted a proposed written final order that the trial court adopted verbatim.

The District Court reversed, noting that although it is not automatically improper for a trial court to adopt a proposed final order word-for-word, the order is subject to reversal if by entering it, the trial court demonstrated that it failed to use its independent judgment.

In the instant case, the order drafted by the wife and adopted by the trial court contradicted the trial court’s oral proclamations.  This, coupled with the fact that the wife’s proposed order was adopted verbatim, was enough to show that the trial court had failed to exercise its independent judgment and that the order should be reversed.