HOW CREDITORS COLLECT JUDGMENTS
Effective asset protection planning requires understanding of what creditors may do and what tools they may use to discover and apply non-exempt assets to satisfy judgments.
Obtaining a final judgment by itself does not provide any money to the creditor, nor does the final judgment by itself take any of the debtor’s property. Judgment collection is the process by which a judgment creditor finds and takes the debtor’s property to pay the judgment. Collecting a judgment is usually referred to legally the “execution” of a judgment. The following is a summary of how your creditors may try to attack your assets to enforce their civil judgments.
When a court finds that you owe someone money the court will enter a money judgment against you for an amount plus interest in favor of your creditor. There is no judgment until the judge signs a document entitled “Judgment” or “Final Judgment.” The judgment is not immediately effective. There is a 10-day period after the date of the judgment during which either party can request rehearing. Rehearing requests are usually denied, but if requested, the judgment is not fully effective until your motion for rehearing is denied.
When a judgment is final a creditor may obtain a Writ of Execution which entitles the creditor to take steps to collect the judgment. The Rules of Procedure give the judgment creditor many ways to find (discover) your assets which may be subject to execution. The process of finding your assets is referred to as “discovery in aid of execution.”
The most prevalent and effective tools include writs of garnishments and specifically wage garnishments. Proceedings supplementary give creditors and judges broad legal powers to find equitable remedies to make debtors pay civil judgments. Knowing the collection weapons at creditors’ disposal is necessary to design an effective defense to these weapons
A creditor’s judgment against a Florida resident obtained from a court in another state or another country is referred to as a “foreign judgment.” A creditor who may collect a foreign judgment from another state by following procedures in Florida Statute 55.501 to domesticate the judgment. Judgments obtained in foreign countries are domesticated under Florida Statute 55.601. The foreign creditor must first record a certified copy of the foreign judgment in Florida. When the foreign judgment is recorded the clerk of court is required to notify the debtor. The debtor then has 30 days to contest the validity of the judgment. The debtor has limited reasons to contest a final judgment issued in another state; these reasons include, for example, lack of jurisdiction and fraud. The debtor cannot retry the merits of the foreign judgment.
EXEMPTIONS AND ASSET PROTECTION
The debtor’s assets which are exempt from execution are immune from any of the above described collections tools. Part of asset protection planning involves making it more difficult and costly for the creditor to assert these collection tools to recover assets.
Florida statutes provide creditors a collection to tools to satisfy their civil judgments from the debtor’s assets. These collection tools each are subject to very detailed procedural rules. The following is a summary of creditor collection tools. Execution... Continue reading
If a creditor cannot satisfy his judgment through garnishment, attachments and some other legal tools pursuant to a writ of execution the creditor may initiate proceedings supplementary to execution pursuant to Florida Statute 56.29. Proceeding supplementary... Continue reading
The writ of garnishment enables a creditor to seize money owed to the debtor by third parties. Debts owed to the debtor include, for example, wages and salary owed by an employer, checking and savings accounts, rental income, and money held in the trust... Continue reading
Wage garnishment is a special type of garnishment writ provided by Florida Statutes. A creditor can garnish a debtor’s wages or salary to satisfy a judgment. What makes the wage garnishment particularly effective is the continuing application of the writ.... Continue reading
In today’s world there are fewer and fewer secrets. It is more difficult than ever before to hide information about yourself including facts about your assets. Technological advances and social media have made it easier than ever before for your adversaries... Continue reading
In most cases the first thing a creditor will do to collect a judgment is require the debtor to complete a financial statement. The Rules of Civil Procedure include a standard financial disclosure form called a “Fact Information Sheet” Upon the award of... Continue reading
A creditor can use all of the discovery tools made available to parties in general litigation. These discovery tools are set forth in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. In addition to the Fact Information Sheet, the creditor may employ all other discovery... Continue reading