Many of my Florida clients need asset protection planning to protect themselves against claims in another state. A creditor that obtains a judgment in another state can enforce the foreign judgment through Florida’s courts to collect money from the debtor residing in Florida. A few people have asked me whether there is a time limit on the enforcement of foreign judgments in Florida. How long does a creditor have to domesticate and enforce a foreign state judgment against a Florida resident?
There seems to be two ways, and two corresponding time frames, by which a creditor can enforce a foreign judgment in Florida. The old way is a common law procedure referred to as “an action to enforce a foreign judgment.” The common law way entails the creditor filing a new lawsuit in Florida based upon the foreign judgment. This procedure is referred to as “an action on a judgment.” . The creditor asks the Florida court to issue a new Florida judgment in order to enforce the prior foreign judgment. A creditor has five years to institute an action on a foreign judgment pursuant to Florida Statute 95.11(2)(a). The court would issue a new Florida judgment which survives for up to 20 years.
The new way to enforce a foreign judgment is to record and domesticate the judgment pursuant to Chapter 55 of the Florida Statutes. The statutes adopt a uniform statutory method of enforcing foreign judgments in various states. If a creditor domesticates a foreign judgment he can use the Florida courts to enforce the judgment, but he does not get a new Florida judgment. The only time limit on recording a foreign judgment is that the judgment must be recorded prior to the expiration of that judgment under the laws of the forum rendering that judgment. For example, if a creditor gets a judgment in New York against a Florida resident the creditor has twenty years to record and enforce the judgment in Florida because New York judgments are good for twenty years.
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