How Long Does a Judgment Last in Florida?

Length of a Judgment

In Florida, a judgment is good for 20 years. It can sometimes be renewed after the 20-year period, although this is difficult and rarely done. The length of a judgment is found in section 55.081 of the Florida Statutes.

Judgments that are not recorded as liens, or are recorded as junior liens, are still valid judgments that can be executed against the debtor’s property. A judgment creditor may garnish the debtor’s bank accounts even if the creditor has not recorded its judgment or has recorded in second place.

Florida civil judgments give the judgment creditor the ability to create a judgment lien on the debtor’s real property. Judgment liens are governed by Section 55.10, Florida Statutes. The statute states that a civil judgment becomes a lien on the debtor’s real property in any county where the creditor records a certified copy of the judgment. The statute does not require the creditor to find the debtor’s property or to know the address of specific property.

The recorded judgment automatically attaches to all property in whatever county the judgment is recorded. The creditor would have to record the judgment in all 67 Florida counties separately to create a state-wide lien on the debtor’s real property. Second, only “certified copies” of the judgment give rise to a lien. The creditor must obtain a certified judgment copy from the clerk of the court to record it as a lien on the debtor’s real estate.

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How long does a judgment lien last in Florida?

Some liens on real estate, such as a mortgage, remain a lien until the underlying debt is paid. There is a time limit on judgment liens. The statute of limitations for collecting a debt in Florida is 20 years. A judgment lien on Florida property based on an underlying money judgment expires ten years after a certified copy of the judgment is recorded in the county where the property is situated. A creditor can re-record the judgment and extend the lien for an additional ten years, not to exceed the 20-year life of the underlying judgment. See, Section 55.10. If the creditor does not re-record the judgment according to statutory procedures, the Florida judgment lien automatically expires after ten years.

Does a judgment become a lien on a Florida homestead?

Judgment liens do not attach to homestead property. The Florida Constitution provides homeowners broad protection from civil money judgments. A recorded certified judgment does not create an automatic lien on the judgment debtor’s real property that the debtor occupies as his primary Florida residence. The properly recorded certified judgment automatically attaches to a homestead property if and when the debtor moves out of the property or otherwise abandons the property as his primary residence.

How to get rid of a judgment?

There are only four ways to get rid of a judgment:

  1. Pay the judgment in full.
  2. Settle the judgment with the creditor.
  3. Discharge the judgment in bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 for individuals).
  4. Wait out the twenty-year life of the judgment.

About the Author

Jon Alper is an expert in asset protection planning for individuals and small businesses.

Jon Alper

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