April 23, 2024
Domesticating Foreign Judgments in Florida

by Denis Kleinfeld

Enforcing a judgment from another state in Florida can be tough. If you want to collect a judgment in Florida, you need to know how to make it official there. This article will help you understand how to do that. It’s a detailed guide for creditors who want to get their money in the Sunshine State.

Key Takeaways:

  • Domesticating a foreign judgment in Florida involves following a specific process. This process is set out under the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act.
  • Key steps in the domestication process include obtaining a certified copy of the foreign judgment, filing an affidavit to domesticate the judgment, and providing notice of registration.
  • After registration, the person who lost the case can argue against the judgment within 30 days.
  • Once the foreign judgment is domesticated, it’s treated like one issued in Florida. This means post-judgment collection actions are possible.
  • Florida Statutes, including Section 55.503 and 55.505, cover how to ask for domestication. Sections 55.507 and 55.509 deal with recognizing the judgment’s validity.

The Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act

The Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act is found in the Florida Statutes, specifically Sections 55.501-55.509. It is key to recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments in Florida. This act sets up rules for making foreign judgments valid and enforceable in the state.

Anyone trying to enforce a foreign judgment in Florida must obey certain steps and rules. These are meant to keep things fair and protect everyone’s rights during the process.

The Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act gives a clear way for foreign judgment enforcement in Florida. It helps those owed money under out-of-state judgments to collect. This act ensures that everyone’s rights and duties are upheld in the state.

Key Provisions of the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act

Important parts of the act include recognizing foreign judgments and making them valid in Florida. It’s about making sure those who won a case somewhere else can actually get what they’re owed in Florida.

  1. The act explains the steps to make a foreign judgment work in Florida’s legal system. It ensures fairness and consistency when enforcing these judgments here.
  2. It guides on what’s needed to make a foreign judgment official in Florida. This includes getting a copy of the foreign judgment and filing an affidavit.
  3. It lays out the legal rules for judgment enforcement in Florida. It tells how creditors can collect what they’re owed on a foreign judgment that’s been made valid here.

Following the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act helps creditors smoothly enforce their foreign judgments in Florida. It guides them in a legal and reliable way through the process.

Benefits of the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act Challenges in Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Florida
Provides a clear legal framework for domestication and enforcement Dealing with potential jurisdictional disputes
Ensures fairness and consistency in the enforcement process Obtaining and serving the necessary court documents
Protects the rights of all parties involved Challenging the validity of foreign judgments

The Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act is crucial for those seeking to enforce judgments in Florida. Understanding and using this act’s rules can lead to successfully enforcing foreign judgments in the state.

The Domestication Process

In Florida, making a foreign judgment legal involves some important steps. Creditors use these to make sure their judgments from other states are recognized. They can then collect debts more easily.

Obtaining a Certified Copy

The first thing to do is get a certified copy of the foreign judgment. This copy proves the judgment is real and valid. The creditor needs to make sure this copy is confirmed by a notary or the issuing court.

Filing an Affidavit

Next, the creditor has to file an affidavit in the right Florida county. This document states their aim to make the foreign judgment official in Florida.

Notice of Registration

After the affidavit, a notice of registration must be submitted. This is filed with the Florida county’s circuit court where the affidavit was also filed. This step makes the domestication public and tells others about it.

Providing Notice to the Judgment Debtor

Then, the judgment debtor must get a copy of the registered foreign judgment. This gives them a chance to argue the foreign judgment’s validity. The creditor must meet all legal requirements when delivering this notice.

Contesting the Validity

If the judgment debtor wants to challenge the domesticated judgment, they have 30 days to do so. During this time, they can file a court case. If they don’t object within 30 days, the foreign judgment is fully accepted in Florida.

Domestication Process

Contesting Enforcement of the Foreign Judgment

In Florida, if you owe money from a foreign judgment, you can try to prove it’s not valid. You have 30 days to fight it in court. You can argue the court didn’t have the right to rule or that the judgment isn’t fair.

One way to contest a foreign judgment is to say the court didn’t have the right to hear the case. If the foreign court overstepped its power, its ruling might not be valid in Florida.

If the judgment from abroad isn’t final, you can also fight it. If it’s still being reviewed or it’s not completely decided, Florida might not honor it.

Showing the foreign judgment was gotten by cheating or working together unfairly is also a reason to contest it. If you can prove the judgment is not right, it might get thrown out.

If the foreign judgment’s being appealed, you have another ground to contest it. As long as the appeal is ongoing, the judgment might not be final.

The court can stop the foreign judgment’s enforcement if they think there’s a good reason. But, they might ask you to put up some money in case you lose.

Challenging a foreign judgment lets you make sure it’s fair. It helps protect your rights in Florida.

Example of Contesting Foreign Judgment:

“I am fighting the foreign judgment because the court had no right to hear my case. I wasn’t served properly, so the court shouldn’t enforce its decision until we sort this out.”

Grounds for Contesting Enforcement of Foreign Judgment:

  • Lack of jurisdiction
  • Non-final judgment
  • Fraud or collusion
  • Judgment on appeal

Steps to Contest Enforcement of a Foreign Judgment

Step Description
1 File an action to question the court’s right to rule or the judgment’s fairness within 30 days of it being recorded
2 Pick your reasons for contesting the foreign judgment, like lack of jurisdiction, a judgment that’s not final, fraud, or it’s still being appealed
3 Ask the court to hold off enforcing the foreign judgment
4 Follow any rules the court sets, which could include putting up money as a guarantee

Enforcement of a Domesticated Judgment

When a foreign judgment becomes a Florida one, it’s as strong as if it came from a local court. The one owed can then work to collect what’s due. They can do this through discovery to learn about the debtor’s finances, or by using garnishments, taking personal or real property, or through other legal ways.

Methods of Enforcement Description
Post-judgment discovery This method involves gathering information about the judgment debtor’s assets, income, and financial situation to assess the most effective way to collect the judgment.
Writs of garnishment A writ of garnishment allows the judgment creditor to collect the debt from the judgment debtor’s wages, bank accounts, or other sources of income.
Execution on personal and real property The judgment creditor may execute the judgment by seizing and selling the judgment debtor’s personal property or placing a lien on their real property.
Proceedings supplementary In cases where the judgment debtor fails to comply with the court’s orders for payment, the judgment creditor may initiate proceedings supplementary to explore additional avenues for collection, such as piercing the corporate veil or uncovering hidden assets.

By using these different methods, the creditor can make sure the judgment is paid. It’s key to have a lawyer who knows about Florida laws guide the process. This can increase the chances of getting the money owed.

Florida Judgment Enforcement

Relevant Laws for Domesticating a Foreign Judgment in Florida

In Florida, specific laws guide the process of making a foreign judgment valid. These laws make sure the judgment is recognized and can be enforced in the state. Chapter 55 of Florida’s laws sets the scene for asking Florida to accept a foreign judgment.

Florida Statutes 55.503 and 55.505

Florida Statutes 55.503 and 55.505 explain how to ask Florida to accept a foreign judgment. They lay out what needs to happen for Florida to recognize and enforce this judgment. Following these rules can help judgment creditors make their foreign judgments work in Florida.

Florida Statutes 55.507 and 55.509

Florida Statutes 55.507 and 55.509 talk more about making foreign judgments official in Florida. Statute 55.507 helps turn the judgment into a lien. This lets creditors secure what they’re owed. Statute 55.509 gives debtors a way to challenge the judgment’s validity. This keeps the process fair.

It is important for judgment creditors and debtors alike to familiarize themselves with these relevant laws and statutes to navigate the domestication process effectively and protect their rights.

It’s key to follow Florida’s laws and statutes to make foreign judgments enforceable. These rules explain all the steps and conditions for bringing a foreign judgment to life in Florida. Knowing and sticking to these laws helps creditors enforce their out-of-state judgments in Florida. This protects their interests.

Steps to Petition for Domestication in Florida

Want to make a foreign judgment valid in Florida? There are some key steps to follow. These steps help ensure a smooth and effective process for everyone involved, making sure the foreign judgment can be settled in Florida.

  1. Obtain a Certified Copy of the Foreign Judgment: Start by getting a certified copy of the foreign judgment. This comes from the court that issued it. This copy proves there is a judgment and is essential for the process.
  2. File a Petition in the Circuit Court: Next, file a petition for domestication. You do this in the circuit court of the county where the judgment debtor lives or owns property. Include details like the amount owed and any fees.
  3. Serve the Petition on the Judgment Debtor: It’s crucial to serve the petition on the debtor once filed. This makes sure they know about the process and can respond if needed.
  4. Schedule a Hearing: Sometimes, a hearing is needed to check the foreign judgment’s validity and enforceability. If so, the court will let you know when both parties must appear. Be ready with all your evidence for this important part of the process.
  5. Judgment Grant and Domestication: If the court finds the foreign judgment is valid for domestication, it will grant the petition. Once accepted, the foreign judgment is now considered a Florida court’s decision. This lets the creditor enforce it in Florida.

These steps are crucial for successfully domesticating a foreign judgment in Florida. They are designed to ensure everyone follows the correct process. This improves the chances of enforcing the judgment in the state.

Defenses to Domesticating a Foreign Judgment in Florida

In Florida, judgment debtors can challenge the enforcement of a foreign judgment. They have the right to use various defenses. Knowing these defenses well is key to handling the legal process wisely.

Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

One defense is to say the court had no right to rule on them. This is called lack of personal jurisdiction. If true, the foreign judgment might be unenforceable in Florida.

Errors in Service of Process

Another defense is if they weren’t served correctly. If the judgment debtor claims they didn’t get the legal papers right, they can fight the foreign judgment being recognized in Florida.


If the judgment was gained through lies, the defendant may contest. They can argue the foreign judgment is based on fraud. This would question its validity for enforcement.

Non-Final Judgment

If the judgment is not final, it might not be eligible for domestication. The defendant can argue this until all proceedings are complete. Any pending appeals mean the judgment shouldn’t be enforced yet.

Public Policy

The judgment may not be recognized if it goes against state public policy. If enforcing the foreign judgment in Florida works against the law, the court might deny its recognition.

Choice of Law

Sometimes, judgments should follow different laws than those used to get them. The defendant may argue this as a defense. It relates to what laws actually apply in their case.

Each case’s details matter a lot. The court will look closely at the situation before deciding. Talking with a skilled lawyer who knows about these defenses is vital. It can help you protect your legal rights well.


Turning foreign judgments into domestic ones in Florida is vital for those who want to enforce their out-of-state judgments. The Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act sets the rules. By following these, creditors ensure their judgments can be used in Florida.

It is smart to get help from a collections lawyer to domesticate a foreign judgment in Florida. They help get the right paperwork, file petitions, and keep everything legal. This way, the judgment can be used just like one from a Florida court.

To enforce foreign judgments in Florida, creditors must use the right legal methods. This can include finding out more about the debtor’s assets, garnishing wages, or taking property. A domesticated judgment gives them these powerful tools to collect what is owed.

Working with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of Florida’s judgment laws is key. They guide creditors through the process. This ensures their rights are protected and maximizes their chances of successfully collecting their debt.


What is the process of domesticating a foreign judgment in Florida?

First, get a certified copy of the foreign judgment. Then, file an affidavit in the county where the debtor lives or has property. Include a notice of the judgment registration. This must be filed and recorded.

After you do this, wait 30 days. If there’s no objection, the foreign judgment is now seen as domesticated in Florida.

Can a judgment debtor contest the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Florida?

Yes, within 30 days, the debtor can challenge it. They can contest the court’s power or the judgment’s validity. The court might stop the judgment if they have good reasons. But, they might have to put up money first.

What methods are available for enforcing a domesticated judgment in Florida?

There are several ways to collect, like post-judgment discoveries. One can also use garnishments, or legally take personal or real property. There’s also a method called supplementary proceedings.

What are the requirements for recognizing and enforcing a foreign judgment in Florida?

Chapter 55 of the Florida State Statutes explains this. Specifically, look at Sections 55.503 and 55.505. These laws show you how to ask Florida to accept a foreign judgment. They also detail how to see it as a legal charge.

How do I petition for the domestication of a foreign judgment in Florida?

To start, get a certified copy of the judgment. File a petition in the county’s circuit court where the debtor is. Make sure to send a copy to the debtor. A court hearing might be needed.

If the court agrees, the foreign judgment becomes a valid Florida court judgment.

What defenses can be raised to challenge the domestication of a foreign judgment in Florida?

There are a few common defenses. These include arguing the court has no power over them or mistakes in how they were served. Fraud, judgments not final, public policy, and choice of law are also reasons.

However, each case is different. The court will look into all the details before deciding.