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In a child custody proceeding, a judgment can be issued against a party who fails to appear at a final hearing. However, the party failing to appear can challenge the proceeding under Rule 1.540(b). “This case, however, was not decided upon a default but upon a full hearing with witnesses and substantial evidence. The mother simply failed to show up at the hearing. She did not move to vacate the proceedings pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.540(b) and has offered no reason, either in the trial court or in this court, as to why she absented herself from the hearing after receiving notice… This would be contrary to the best interest of the child. A parent should have the right to move to vacate a final custody judgment on the grounds allowed by Rule 1.540(b). At the hearing on the Rule 1.540(b) motion, the court may consider the absent party’ s grounds for failing to appear and hear any evidence that the party may have that would involve the party’s “meritorious defense” to the proceedings. See Webber v. Novelli, 756 So. 2d 164,165-66 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000) (noting that the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the mother’s failure to attend). See also Elliott v. Aurora Loan Servs.,LLC,3l So. 3d 304,307 (Fla. 4thDCA 2010) (stating that to set aside judgment, the trial court must find that the movant has demonstrated excusable neglect, a meritorious defense, and due diligence in seeking relief).” Denker v. Denker 

Income that can be derived from an IRA can be utilized to determine ability to pay. “The wife challenges the trial court’s inclusion of IRA income in its determination of her ability to support herself. She contends that the court erred as a matter of law in concluding that income from her IRAs and annuities could be imputed to her. We hold, however, that income from an IRA through a Regulation 72(t) withdrawal plan can be imputed to a spouse for purposes of determining an alimony obliga tion where the court can reasonably conclude that the principal of the IRA will not be invaded for the purpose of support…Taking these provisions together, a court must consider the financial resources distributed to the parties through the dissolution and all sources of income available, which includes payments available from annuities and retirement benefits. In this case that includes the income available from the IRAs and annuities… ‘A court should impute income that could reasonably be projected on a former spouse’s liquid assets.’… We would further note that our decision can work both ways. In a proper case, the court could consider income available to the paying spouse when determining an ability to pay alimony. In a case where a spouse may be claiming a reduction in earned income but with substantial IRA or other retirement plans, a court could impute income to a paying spouse pursuant to a 72(t) plan in order to assure that a spouse’s alimony needs are met.” Niederman v. Niederman

If a party obtains an award of retroactive alimony, that party may also obtain prejudgment interest on the award. “Also, the Wife is entitled to prejudgment interest on the alimony arrearage owed by the Husband. See Burkley v. Burkley, 911 So. 2d 262, 271 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (“[T]he court…would err by declining to award prejudgment interest for arrearages. Courts must award prejudgment interest on arrearages found to be due in the final judgment.”); see also Miller v. Miller, 679 So. 2d 858, 858 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996) Gremel v. Gremel 

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