What Is the Florida Statute of Limitations for a Foreign Domesticated Judgment?

Quick answer: a domesticated judgment is enforceable for 20 years after the date of the original judgment.

What Is a Domesticated Judgment?

A creditor who obtains a money judgment against you in a foreign state (a state other than Florida) cannot use the foreign state courts to collect money from your Florida assets.

The creditor must convert the foreign state judgment into a Florida judgment to use Florida courts and collection remedies. That process is known as “domesticating” the judgment in Florida. 

Under the Full Faith and Credit Provisions of the U.S. Constitution, Florida will permit the domestication of any judgment or order from a court of any other state or the federal government.

How Does Your Creditor Domesticate and Enforce a Foreign Judgment?

The Florida legislature enacted in 1984 a statute that created an efficient method of enforcing and domesticating foreign judgments. This law is the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act. Sections 55.501-509, Florida Statutes.

The creditor must file a certified copy of the foreign judgment and service notice of domestication upon the debtor. In most cases, the foreign judgment becomes an enforceable Florida judgment after thirty days, and the creditor may thereafter enforce and collect the judgment through Florida courts as if the judgment were issued by the Florida court.

The collection effort may use all Florida law collection remedies, provided that the debtor may assert all of Florida’s asset exemptions including, for example, the Florida homestead exemption.

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Judgments do not last forever. Florida’s statute of limitations applies to Florida judgments. The statute provides that a Florida judgment is good and enforceable for twenty years. After twenty years it automatically expires.

How Long Is a Domesticated Judgment Enforceable?

A domesticated judgment is enforceable for twenty years. The twenty-year timeline begins to run from the date of the original judgment.

What happens if the state where the judgment was entered has a shorter statute of limitations?

The answer is that the judgment is enforceable for 20 years, starting on the day the judgment was entered in the other state.

Here’s an Example

Arizona law, for example,  provides that a creditor has five years to collect a judgment. A creditor that obtains an Arizona judgment against a Florida resident has five years to enforce the judgment in Arizona, but it may extend the collection period to twenty years by domesticating the judgment in Florida.

The judgment must be domesticated in Florida before the time the judgment expires in Arizona after five years.

Suppose Creditor A obtains an Arizona judgment in the year 2000 against a Florida resident. Creditor A has five years to execute the judgment against assets located in Arizona. Failing to find Arizona assets, Creditor A  seeks to domesticate the judgment in Florida.

He must file the domestication before the Arizona judgment expires in 2005. Assuming he properly and timely domesticates the judgment, the statute of limitations applicable to the new Florida judgment is twenty years, but the clock starts from the date of the original judgment (2000). The Florida judgment expires in 2020.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.