Foreign Judgments

A “foreign judgment” refers to a money judgment obtained in any state or federal court outside of Florida. A foreign judgment must be domesticated through a Florida court proceeding before it can be executed in Florida. Our judgment domestication practice begins with the filing of a legal action for domestication of your out-of-state judgment in a state or federal court situated in a Florida county where the judgment debtor owns real property, personal property, or conducts business. A successful outcome will create a lien that can be enforced or foreclosed upon through the Florida court system. If the foreign judgment debtor does not respond to the initial domestication process, the clerk of court will enter the judgment into the public record. However, if the foreign-judgment debtor objects to an action for domestication, or challenges the judgment’s validity, the domestication action is no longer primarily procedural, but becomes an adversarial proceeding and subject to full adjudication in a Florida court, or competent Jurisdiction.

Whether the judgment is domesticated by default on the part of the judgment debtor or by favorable adjudication by the court, in either case the out-of-state judgment is ultimately given the same full faith and credit as if it were a Florida judgment.  In some instances a Foreign Judgment has a shorter “life”  (number of years) (5 years) than an original Florida Judgment, which have a 20-year life. The Foreign Judgment once domesticated shall be subject to execution through all of the remedies available to a Florida judgment creditor, such as attachment and levy of personal property, garnishment of wages, garnishment of accounts receivable, garnishment of bank accounts, replevin of personal property, and foreclosure on real property. (Additional costs may be incurred to domesticate a judgment in a Florida court originally obtained in California, Vermont, Massachusetts or Indiana.)

Most of the debt collection cases we accept are handled on a contingent fee plus costs basis under which the client will owe no amount for attorney’s fees unless there is a money recovery. The client will be responsible for costs, William R. Wohlsifer, PLLC, will do all we can to keep these costs at a minimum, and will not incur any single reasonable and necessary cost without the client’s prior approval.

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