Inherent Power to Interpret Judgment
LaFontaine v. LaFontaine, [Ms. 2171090, Feb. 15, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2019). This decision (Moore, J.; Thompson, P.J., and Donaldson and Hanson, JJ., concur; Edwards, J., concurs in the result) affirms a trial court’s judgment clarifying a judgment of divorce more than a year after its entry.
In rejecting the former husband’s challenge to subject-matter jurisdiction, the court held
A trial court possesses an inherent power over its own judgment that enables it to interpret, implement, or enforce those judgments. Patterson v. Patterson, 518 So. 2d 739 (Ala. Civ. App. 1987). Generally, a property provision in a divorce judgment is not modifiable more than 30 days after the judgment is entered. Martin v. Martin, 656 So. 2d 846, 848 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995). However, if the court finds that a provision dividing property is ambiguous, the court has the power to clarify the judgment, and such a clarification is not considered a modification. Williams v. Williams, 591 So. 2d 879 (Ala. Civ. App. 1991).