Your rights in civil court depend on state law. As a business or service provider attempting to collect on an amount due, you may turn to the civil courts in the state where you provided the service or where the non-paying customer lives.
When you have proof of missed payments or someone falling out of compliance with a financial agreement that you have with them, it may be possible to take them to civil court and ask a judge to issue a judgment in your favor. A court judgment can lead to the garnishment of someone’s wages or might allow you to place a lien against their personal property until they pay you back.
Unfortunately, someone who has avoided their financial responsibilities long enough to be subject to a judgment could continue trying to skirt their obligations to others. They might quit their job and cross state lines. If you have a judgment from New York, Iowa or Texas, can you potentially enforce that when the debtor flees to Florida to avoid the enforcement of the judgment?
You can domesticate judgments from other states
Florida allows for a process known as the domestication of foreign judgments. Essentially, judgments from another state are enforceable in Florida provided that the party hoping to enforce the judgment follows the right steps.
Presenting paperwork about the judgment to the courts at a hearing is typically the process required when an individual or business wants to enforce a judgment from another state in Florida. When successful, the party with the judgment can then take the steps they intended to before the debtor left the original state.
Domestication is easier than relitigating
Some people may question why a business would go to court to enforce an old judgment when they could simply file a lawsuit against the same party in the Florida courts. There are many reasons to domesticate a prior judgment instead of taking the debtor to court again.
One of those reasons is that the process is usually faster. Another is that you have a better chance of securing some repayment by domesticating a judgment, as you won’t necessarily have to wait to litigate again and run the risk of the person who owes you money leaving Florida before you can enforce your new Florida judgment here.
Consulting with a lawyer familiar with the complex laws that apply to debt collection and debt-related court judgments can help those hoping to domesticate a judgment from another state and collect on a debt in Florida.