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How a domesticated foreign judgment might be enforced


Imagine you are part of a lawsuit in New York or California, and at the conclusion, you receive a significant monetary judgment. But the case took a long time to resolve, and the defendant has since moved to Florida. All their assets are now in the Sunshine State – meaning if you want to collect what you are owed, it has to happen in Florida.

In the modern world, this type of situation is not uncommon. And there is a legal path to ensure you get what is rightfully yours, without having to go through another laborious process.


Enforcing a foreign judgment

In Florida, creditors owed compensation as part of a judgment from outside the state have a legal avenue for enforcing it. This legal avenue is known as domestication of a foreign judgment. If approved, it allows the plaintiff to collect as though the judgment had come from Florida. That might mean:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Freezing the debtor’s bank accounts
  • A lien on the defendant’s property
  • The sale of property via a levy

In some cases, domesticating a foreign order may be the only realistic way to collect on a judgment.

Are there benefits to domesticating a foreign judgment?

By domesticating a foreign judgment, you can take use any method allowed under Florida law to discover and collect the debtor’s assets and use the Florida courts to enforce your rights. This may make the enforcement process both cheaper and faster than trying to collect another way.

In addition, it may make the collection process more convenient. For example, maybe you now live in Florida and can oversee the process from home. Or maybe the defendant doesn’t have easily accessible property outside of Florida. It’s something techniques such as an asset search may be able to help determine.

Any time there are legal matters that cross state lines, things have the potential to become far more complicated than you anticipated. In some situations, however, Florida’s foreign judgment domestication law may offer a clear solution.

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