Florida asset protection laws for the most part are applicable to Florida residents defending collection of Florida judgments. I find that clients often misunderstand the concept of “Florida resident.” Residency means different things depending upon the context in Florida law. Qualification for residency depends upon the legal context.
For instance, a couple cannot divorce in Florida unless one spouse has been a resident of Florida for six months. For purpose of state income tax many people need to spend at least six months in Florida to avoid taxation in another state where they also have residence. For asset protection purpose, residency refers to a person’s primary residence or “domicile.” A person may have a place of residence in Florida and residences in one or more other states. Florida asset protection laws apply to people who have their permanent residence in Florida.
Your permanent residence is the place you call “home.” Its is the place where you have your drivers’s license, register your cars, and the address you put on your federal tax returns. Whether your permanent residence is in Florida depends on all the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. There is a statutory procedure to file a “declaration of domicile” in Florida. This declaration is just one of the facts that determine Florida residency, and most Florida residents do not file (or even know about) the statutory declaration of domicile. So, if you are just moving to Florida you do not need to file a declaration of domicile with the courts; you will be a Florida resident, for asset protection, the same day you arrive in Florida with the intent to make Florida your new home.