Florida has adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“UEFJA”), atF.S. §§55.501–55.509. The Act is known as
the “Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.” Under this Act, we can convert your foreign (i.e., sister state) judgment into
a Florida judgment. We prepare a Notice of Filing (in lieu of a complaint) and file it with the Circuit Court of the County where the judgment debtor was last known to reside or to have its principal place of business. We require that the creditor provide us with the following:
• An exemplified copy of the judgment from your state;
• An affidavit that the judgment is from your state court and has not been satisfied (we prepare this document); and
• Security for costs to cover filing with the Circuit Court of the Notice with the affidavit and copy of the exemplified judgment; to obtain certificates of judgment to record in the appropriate counties and with Florida’s Statewide Registry; and for such further post judgment proceedings as the creditor may desire or request.
This is frequently referred to as Foreign Judgment Domestication. Once we file these items with the clerk’s office, the court sends a copy of the judgment and an affidavit that we prepare on your behalf, to the debtor. [Our office also generally sends a copy directly to the judgment debtor and files a certificate of service with the court as further proof that the Notice has been properly served on the judgment debtor in accordance with the Act. The debtor then has 30 days to file an action objecting to the domestication of the judgment. No execution or other post judgment enforcement of the foreign judgment can occur prior to the expiration of the notice period. Once we have domesticated the judgment, it is enforceable in Florida as any other domestic [i.e., Florida] judgment. We then go to work to collect your judgment. We frequently issue a garnishment against the debtor’s bank account and otherwise attempt to identify and locate debtor’s assets within the state, subject to the directions and arrangement with our client.
[An Alternative procedure in Florida is to file a separate or new action based on the sister state foreign judgment. See, Fla. Stat. § 95.11. This procedure, however, usually takes much longer than under the uniform act.]
There are a few narrow defenses that a debtor can present that, if successful, would prevent us from domesticating your court’s judgment. These defenses include:
• Lack of jurisdiction over the defendant. If your state court did not properly have jurisdiction over the defendant, then your judgment may be voidable and/or not enforceable by the Florida court. You should be certain that your state’s long arm statute was complied with if necessary for jurisdiction over the defendant, in order to avoid or overcome this argument. Moreover, if you are relying upon a venue selection clause in your contract with the defendant, you should know that many courts do not favor these provisions. On the other hand, more courts are inclined to enforce these provisions than not.
• Improper service of the summons and complaint. Much like jurisdiction, it’s important for you to have complied with your state court’s rules for service of process. If the defendant successfully attacks service of process, then your judgment would be voidable and/or not enforceable by
a Florida court. However, this can often be remedied by authorizing us to file a new lawsuit in Florida.
Once we have domesticated your state’s judgment, our collection procedures are the same since the UEFJA provides that the judgment may be collected as any other.
If you have a judgment from a court outside of Florida, we can turn it into
a Florida judgment relatively quickly. For more information, call
1-888-436-3330 or email us by clicking