Enforcing a Foreign Judgment in Florida
File a Certified Copy of the Judgment With the Clerk of Court, Along With An Affidavit of RecordingIf you have obtained a judgment in another state against an individual or organization residing or conducting business in the State of Florida, the first step to collecting that judgment in Florida is to determine in what county the debtor's property is located. Once you have determined this, you must file with the Clerk of Court of that county a certified copy of the foreign judgment, along with an affidavit setting forth the name, social security number, if known, and last known post-office address of the judgment debtor and of the judgment creditor (and attorneys name, address, phone number and bar number), along with the requisite filing fees. Fla. Stat. A? 55.505. After this is done, the Clerk records the foreign judgment and sends notice of the recording of the judgment, certified mail, to the debtor. The judgment creditor, or its attorney, should also send a copy of the judgment to the judgment debtor, along with a copy of the Clerk's notice of recording.
Allow the Judgment Debtor 30 Days to Object to the Enforcement of the Foreign JudgmentPursuant to Fla. Stat. A? 55.509, the judgment debtor is given the opportunity to contest the foreign judgment, but the grounds upon which to challenge a foreign judgment are extremely limited. This is because pursuant to Article IV, Section I of the United States Constitution, "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." That means that unless the court entering the judgment lacked personal jurisdiction over the debtor or over the subject matter, the foreign judgment is not subject to attack in Florida. Further, if the debtor had the opportunity to contest jurisdiction in the foreign court, the Florida court is bound by the foreign court's determination on this issue.
Even if the debtor challenges the judgment on one of the above grounds, the creditor can execute on the judgment at the conclusion of the 30 days, unless the judgment debtor posts a bond with the court in the amount of the judgment.
Execute on the JudgmentAt the expiration of the 30 day period, pursuant to Fla. Stat. A? 55.507, unless a bond has been posted as stated above, the judgment has the same effect as a judgment entered by a court of the State of Florida. The judgment operates as a lien against all real property owned by the debtor except the debtor's homestead, and against all personal property owned by the debtor. As such, the judgment creditor is entitled to a writ of execution against personal property, a writ of garnishment against the debtor's wages, bank accounts, and other debts due from third parties to the debtor, and all other remedies available to judgment creditors in the State of Florida.