Judgment Collection


Frequently Asked Questions


Do you need help collecting your judgment?

If your judgment is collectable, I will do it. I have more than 20 years of experience domesticating, enforcing and collecting judgments. I will give you my honest and frank opinion as to the collectability of your judgment. If I accept your case on a contingency agreement, I am paid only if I am able to collect on your judgment. I know a few "tricks of the trade" for collecting from deadbeat debtors.



Is it "judgment" or "judgement" (with an "e")?

Judgment is the American spelling and judgement (with the "e") is the British spelling. In context of the law, however, the spelling is always judgment---without the "e."



Do you know that there a limited time to enforce your judgment (i.e. statute of limitations)?

There is a twenty-year statute of limitations on Florida judgments. Any judgments recorded on or after July 1, 1994 have an initial term of ten years. The term of the judgment may be extended for another ten years by, prior to the expiration of the initial term, re-recording a certified copy of the final judgment and simultaneously recording an affidavit with the current name and address of the lien holder. If extended, the priority position of the judgment is unaffected. If the original judgment lapses without filing of an extension, the judgment ceases to exist. The judgment creditor may re-record the final judgment at a later time creating a new judgment; however, this new judgment will not have the same priority as the previous lapsed judgment. In other words, the judgment will only have priority over any subsequent liens and will only be effective as to property held by the debtor at the time the new judgment is created.



Do you know the difference between real property and personal property?

Land and buildings are called real property. Movable things, like cars, boats, jewelry, and furniture etc. are called personal property.



Do you know how to obtain a judgment lien on the debtor's real property?

There must be real property within the State of Florida against which the judgment will attach. The real property must be non-exempt and subject to levy. For example, if the judgment debtor's property is homestead property or owned by tenants by the entireties (i.e., by husband and wife), then this real property is not subject to levy and the judgment will not attach to the property (unless the property is non-homestead and unless the judgment is against both the husband and wife). You can obtain a judgment on the debtor's real property by recording a certified copy of the judgment in the real estate records of the county in which the real property is located. Once the judgment is properly recorded, the judgment lien takes priority over any judgments recorded at a later date and it maintains that priority so long as the lien exists.



Do you know that a judgment may not be enforceable against real property if you forget to insert the judgment holder's address (i.e., Plaintiff's address) in the judgment or if you only insert the Plaintiff's attorney's address in the judgment?

Florida law requires such information be contained within the judgment (but if you forget, you may re-file a certified copy of the judgment along with an affidavit containing this information).



Do you know how to obtain a judgment lien certificate on the debtor's personal property?

You can obtain a judgment lien certificate on all of the debtor's personal property located anywhere in Florida by filing a judgment lien certificate with the Department of State. A judgment lien certificate lapses after five years. If there are liens ahead of you, you will move toward the front of the line as they lapse. After five years, you can file again and get another judgment lien, but if others have been filed after your first filing, you will go to the end of the line.



Is the debtor required to voluntarily pay you?

No. It is a misconception that obtaining a Florida judgment means you will get paid. In fact, the only time you will get paid on a Florida judgment without subsequent legal effort is if the debtor volunteers to make payments. What are the chances of that? In most situations you will need to further legal action such as garnishment, levy or some other post-judgment action to get paid.



Do you know how to collect your judgment?

It can be difficult and frustrating. If the debtor does not pay you voluntarily, there are several avenues you can take to collect your judgment. First, you may file a garnishment against the debtor's bank account and/or wages. Additionally, you are entitled to get the sheriff to seize the debtor's property. This is called a levy. Once the sheriff has levied on the property, the sheriff will then sell it and disburse the money the sheriff receives from the sale.



Do you know how to locate the debtor's real and personal property?

You can locate the debtor's assets the old fashion way by taking the debtor's deposition or by taking post-judgment discovery (i.e., requiring the debtor to legally provide the creditor with his or her financial information in writing and under oath). This method can be time-consuming and will "tip off" the debtor to your actions. Alternatively, you can locate the debtor's assets using more advanced and sophisticated research methods without the debtor's knowledge and then seize the assets without further delay or notification to the debtor. It depends upon the facts in the case as to what method to choose.



Do you know that certain property is exempt from garnishment and execution?

A debtor's homestead is exempt from execution. The judgment debtor may also select personal property worth up to $1,000.00, and one motor vehicle worth up to $1,000.00, as exempt property. Only people have exemptions. If your judgment is against a corporation or a partnership, the sheriff can seize all of the corporation's property. Of course, the sheriff can only levy on property the debtor truly owns, not property owned by somebody else, such as leased property. Florida law protects the head of household from wage garnishment. Therefore, unless the head of household makes more than $750.00 per week and has consented in writing to have his/her wages garnished, then these wages are exempt. If the wages are not exempt, a creditor can collect up to 25% of wages per pay period until the judgment is paid. Head of household exemption may apply to all or some of the bank account funds as well. If bank account funds are titled as tenants by the entireties property (i.e., owned by both the husband and the wife), these funds may be exempt if your judgment is against only the husband or the wife, not both. There are other exemptions that apply to both wage and bank account garnishments, including but not limited to retirement funds, social security benefits, and unemployment compensation.



Can you enforce a foreign judgment (i.e., a judgment from another state or country) within Florida?

Yes. Domestication of a foreign judgment is the legal process whereby judgments from other states or foreign nations are recorded and then become enforceable in Florida. Thereafter, collection efforts can be commenced to obtain the debtor's property located in Florida.



Can collecting a judgment give you a headache?

Yes. However, for me, I give headaches to debtors, not get headaches.






Call 561-694-0795 for a free consultation


3507 Kyoto Gardens Drive, Suite 110

Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410