Florida has adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA), which allows for the recognition and enforcement of judgments from other states as if they were judgments from a Florida court. This act simplifies the process of collecting a debt from a debtor who has moved to Florida or has assets in the state.

Step 1: File the Judgment with a Florida Court

The first step in enforcing an out-of-state judgment in Florida is to file a certified copy of the foreign judgment with the clerk of the circuit court in any Florida county where you seek enforcement. This filing must include:

  • A certified copy of the original judgment from the issuing state.
  • An affidavit from the creditor stating the last known address of the debtor and the creditor.

Step 2: Notify the Debtor

Once the foreign judgment is filed, Florida law requires that the debtor be notified. The clerk of the court will typically handle this notification, but it’s crucial to ensure that:

  • The debtor is served with a notice of the recording of the foreign judgment.
  • The notice includes the name and address of the creditor and the creditor’s attorney, if applicable.

The debtor has 30 days from the date of notice to contest the validity of the judgment. During this time, they can file a motion contesting the enforcement on grounds that might include jurisdictional issues or claims that the judgment has been paid or is unenforceable.

Step 3: Wait for the 30-Day Period

The enforcement process pauses during the 30-day contesting period. If the debtor does not contest the judgment or if their contest is unsuccessful, the judgment is confirmed as enforceable under Florida law.

Step 4: Proceed with Collection

After the 30-day period has expired and any challenges have been resolved, the judgment is treated like any other Florida judgment. At this point, you can:

  • Obtain a writ of execution to seize assets.
  • Garnish wages or bank accounts.
  • Place liens on property.

Step 5: Continual Monitoring and Renewal

Keep in mind that foreign judgments, like Florida judgments, are subject to expiration. In Florida, a judgment is enforceable for 20 years from the date it is domesticated.

How Long Does a Creditor Have to Domesticate a Foreign Judgment?

In Florida, the timeframe within which a creditor can domesticate a foreign judgment is governed by the statute of limitations. The key factor to consider is the foreign judgment’s lifespan according to the state’s laws where it was issued.

Generally, Florida law recognizes the principle of giving full faith and credit to judgments from other states, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. This means that as long as the foreign judgment is valid and enforceable in the state where it was issued, it can typically be domesticated in Florida.

However, specifics can vary. Most states, including Florida, have a statute of limitations for enforcing judgments that usually ranges from 5 to 20 years, and this period can often be renewed. Therefore, a creditor must domesticate the foreign judgment in Florida within this period.

For example, if a judgment has a 10-year enforceability period in the state where it was issued, the creditor would generally need to domesticate that judgment in Florida within that 10-year timeframe. If the statute of limitations on the judgment is close to expiring, the creditor may need to renew the judgment in the original state before domesticating it in Florida.

Once domesticated in Florida, the judgment will be subject to Florida’s statute of limitations for enforcement. In Florida, a domesticated foreign judgment is treated as a Florida judgment, which typically has a 20-year lifespan but can vary depending on the specific type of judgment and any applicable renewals.