What is a Florida Fact Information Sheet?
A Florida Fact Information Sheet is a financial disclosure form that a judgment debtor is typically required to fill out for the judgment creditor after the final judgment is entered. The procedures for a Fact Information Sheet are incorporated in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon the award of a final judgment, the creditor can ask the court to order the judgment debtor to complete the Fact Information Sheet and return it to the creditor, with related documents, within 45 days.
The court typically will include in the final judgment itself an ordering paragraph pertaining to the debtor’s FIS. A standard FIS ordering paragraph is:
- It is further ordered and adjudged that the judgment debtor(s) shall complete under oath Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977 (Fact Information Sheet), including all required attachments, and serve it on the judgment creditor’s attorney, or the judgment creditor if the judgment creditor is not represented by an attorney, within 45 days from the date of this final judgment, unless the final judgment is satisfied or post-judgment discovery is stayed. Jurisdiction of this case is retained to enter further orders that are proper to compel the judgment debtor(s) to complete form 1.977, including all required attachments, and serve it on the judgment creditor’s attorney, or the judgment creditor if the judgment creditor is not represented by an attorney.
Questions in the Fact Information Sheet
The standard form Florida Fact Information Sheet is called Florida Form 1.977. Often the Form 1.977 will be attached to the final judgment.
The FIS form is, essentially, a financial statement. Frist, the debtor is required to provide information about his residence and family so the creditor will know if the debtor is married and has dependents. The form asked about the debtor’s current employment and salary. The debtor is required to list his ownership interests in real estate, bank accounts, financial accounts, retirement accounts and businesses. The FIS requires that the debtor provide copies of deeds, car titles, and the debtor’s last two years federal tax returns. All this financial information in the FIS can guide a creditor’s collection efforts. The creditor will employ appropriate collection tools yo recover his judgment from the debtor’s non-exempt assets listed in the debtor’s FIS.
Keep in mind that Florida Form 1.977 is just an asset discovery tool. In addition to requiring completion of the FIS, a judgment creditor can use other discovery methods such as requests for documents and oral depositions of the debtor and the debtor’s family.
Many asset protection strategies are effective even after a judgment is entered. It is not too late to consider asset protection even if a debtor has been ordered to complete a Fact Information Sheet. In fact, changes to the debtor’s assets should be made prior to submitting a FIS under oath.
Spouse Information on Fact Information Sheet
Many debtors do not understand whether they must provide information about a non-debtor spouse in response to questions on the FIS. The answer is yes. A judgment creditor may ask for some information about the debtor’s family. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.560(d) states:
In any final judgment, if requested by the judgment creditor, the court shall include the additional Spouse Related Portion of the fact information sheet upon a showing that a proper predicate exists for discovery of separate income and assets of the judgment debtor’s spouse.
Florida law allows a money judgment creditor broad discovery tools to find out any financial information concerning the judgment debtor. The statute authorizing this discovery allows the creditor to obtain this information from any person about any asset a creditor may attack in order to collect its judgment.. Further, the applicable collection statute specifically allows the Fact Information to include spousal information. Creditors often want spousal financial information to see if the debtor made fraudulent transfers to the non-debtor spouse.
The financial status of a judgment debtor’s spouse is directly related to the judgment debtor’s own finances. It does not matter that the spouse is not named in the judgment itself.
Are There Penalties for Not Completing a Fact Information Sheet?
Under Florida law, the debtor must sign the Fact Information Sheet under oath, and intentional misstatements or omissions may be subject to perjury.
A debtor may request additional time to complete the Fact Information Sheet in Florida if, for example, the debtor’s financial situation is unusually complex or if the debtor needs to assemble documents stored elsewhere.
If the debtor does not complete the Fact Information Sheet by a court ordered deadline, the creditor may ask the court for an order that provides a new deadline after which the debtor could be held in contempt of court for failing to complete and serve the FIS. The judge may then order the debtor to show cause (explain why the debtor ignored the court’s FIS order), and if necessary issue an arrest warrant. The court’s enforcement steps are as follows:
- A motion to compel debtor to answer the fact information sheet.
- Order compelling answers to the fact information sheet.
- Order to show cause as to why defendant did not complete the fact information sheet.
- Writ of bodily attachment (arrest).
Last updated on April 22, 2021