Fact Information Sheet in Florida
In Florida, a fact information sheet is a financial disclosure form that a judgment debtor must fill out and send to 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.
The Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a judgment 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 standard fact information sheet is included in Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977. Often Form 1.977 will be attached to the final judgment.
Order to Complete a Out Fact Information Sheet
The court typically will include in the final judgment an ordering paragraph pertaining to the debtor’s fact information sheet. A typical fact information sheet 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.
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Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977
The fact information sheet is a sworn financial statement. The debtor must sign the fact information sheet under penalty of perjury. The debtor must provide information about their residence and family, so the creditor will know if the debtor is married and has dependents. The form asks about the debtor’s current employment and salary. The debtor must list their ownership interests in real estate, bank accounts, financial accounts, retirement accounts, and businesses. The fact information sheet requires that the debtor provide copies of deeds, car titles, and the debtor’s last two years’ federal tax returns.
All this financial information can guide a creditor’s collection efforts. The creditor will employ appropriate collection tools to recover their judgment from the debtor’s non-exempt assets listed in the debtor’s fact information sheet.
Keep in mind that Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Form 1.977 is one of several asset discovery tools. In addition to the fact information sheet, a judgment creditor can use other discovery methods included in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure such as requests for documents and oral depositions of the debtor and the debtor’s family.
Many asset protection strategies are effective 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. Changes to the debtor’s assets should be made prior to submitting a fact information sheet under oath.
Tip: Debtors do not have to volunteer more information on the fact information sheet than is asked.
Many debtors do not understand whether they must provide information about a non-debtor spouse in response to questions on the fact information sheet. 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 gives money judgment creditors broad discovery tools to find financial information concerning the judgment debtor and their assets. The statute authorizing this discovery allows the creditor to obtain this information from any person and about any asset a creditor could attack to collect its judgment. Judgment creditors have good reasons to use the Fact Information Sheet to discover spousal information. Creditors often want spousal financial information to see if the debtor made fraudulent transfers to the non-debtor spouse and to see if the debtor would qualify as a head of household in a potential wage garnishment action.
Penalties for Not Completing a Fact Information Sheet
Under Florida law, the debtor must sign the Fact Information Sheet under oath within 45 days, 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 providing a new deadline, after which the debtor could be held in contempt of court for failing to complete and serve the fact information sheet on time. If the debtor misses the extended completion deadline the judge may order the debtor to show cause (explain why the debtor ignored the court’s order) and issue an arrest warrant if necessary. The court will enforce its orders to complete the fact information sheet. The court’s enforcement includes the following:
- A motion to compel the debtor to answer the fact information sheet.
- Order compelling complete answers to the fact information sheet by a date certain.
- Order to show cause as to why the defendant did not complete the fact information sheet by a court-ordered deadline.
- Writ of bodily attachment (arrest).
About the Author
Gideon Alper specializes in asset protection planning for individuals and their families.
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