What is a Consent Judgment?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A consent judgment is a decision reached by a court upon the agreement of all parties involved in a suit. In civil suits, the parties can work out an agreement and have it finalized with this judgment to end litigation. The court's decision is final and puts the issue to rest, ensuring that it cannot be contested or relitigated in the future.

A judge can write a consent decree that details the agreement between two parties in a lawsuit.
A judge can write a consent decree that details the agreement between two parties in a lawsuit.

Consent judgments are binding on the parties involved in the agreement. The nature of the judgment can vary, depending on the type of litigation involved. It may require one party to pay damages to the other, for example, or indicate that a party involved in the suit must stop or start a particular activity. The judgment is enforceable, and if one party fails to abide by the terms, the other party can take legal action to compel that person to comply.

A consent judgment can prevent the need for an often costly court proceeding.
A consent judgment can prevent the need for an often costly court proceeding.

Litigation can be a costly endeavor for all parties involved, so they may attempt to reach a settlement before they go to court. For the judge to issue a consent judgment, all parties must indicate that the agreement has been mutually agreed on and that they find it acceptable. If a party does not agree, the litigation must proceed in court, as entering a judgment against that person's wishes would result in a deprivation of legal rights.

Judges can issue a judgment in the form of a consent decree, a document that spells out the terms of the agreement reached by the parties involved. The only circumstances in which such judgments can be appealed are those in which one side can prove that the agreement was reached fraudulently. If one party was misled into an agreement, it can argue that the litigation should be reopened to give that party a fair chance in court.

The outcome of a consent judgment is a matter of public record because it takes place in a court of law. People who are curious about the outcome of a settlement may look it up to get more information. Sometimes, however, the terms include confidentiality clauses that obscure individuals' identities or the amount of damages. This is done for privacy reasons and by request from the person paying damages so that members of the public are not alerted to the possibility of potential payouts in similar cases.

A consent decree may be issued if an agreement is reached in mediation.
A consent decree may be issued if an agreement is reached in mediation.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


A Consent Judgment says that my spouse must keep our family home till 2015. My spouse sold the house and the calculation of support was based on keeping the house till 2015. Can I lower my support based on the sale of the house? How do I do that?


My lawyer wants me to sign a consent judgment against me for money owed. I have paid his firm continuously for three years and this wasn't explained at all by them. Is this legal?


If stated in a judgment and sentence an inmate was given extra time off a sentence and that document years later was changed and the inmate is having to prove the original was altered and is now ending up having time added on to the original sentence, does he legally have to serve more time due to the change of days altered or changed?


@RequiredFun - In the court I worked at, our judge was very understanding of these types of situations and would generally work with both parties if the worst happened. However, I don't know about other courts in other areas. A plaintiff still has the right to pursue the actions I mentioned previously if a court judgment is breached. However, if there is no job and no real property, they pretty much have to take what they can get and most plaintiffs that I dealt with would accept amended terms in these cases.


I would like to know what happens if a person makes a consent to judgment and then, due to no fault of their own, are unable to keep their end of the agreement. For example, in the cases of unemployment or disability, will the court work with that person as long as they are trying to pay?


I worked in the Magistrate Court for several years, and I have to agree with the article about a consent judgment being the cheapest and easiest way to resolve a legal dispute. I did want to elaborate, however, on what legal actions can be taken if a party fails to keep their end of the agreement. In these cases, a default on consent judgment is issued so the complaining party can take further action.

This action could be in the form of a garnishment if the defendant is employed or something called a FIFA, if not both. The FIFA is essentially a lien on any real property the defendant has so that they cannot sell their property without first satisfying the court judgment. Garnishments force an employer to withhold a specific dollar amount from every paycheck and submit it to the court for disbursement.

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