Enforcing an Out-of-State Judgment in Florida
Generally, most out-of-state judgments (or foreign judgments) are given “full faith and credit” and can be enforced here in Florida in the same manner as any judgment entered by a Florida Court. However, in order to enforce a foreign judgement, there are certain steps you must take prior to bringing enforcement efforts here in Florida.
Domesticating a Foreign Judgment
The first step to enforcing a foreign judgment in Florida is “domesticating” that judgment in Florida. Through this process, the foreign judgment is found valid in Florida and recognized by a Florida court. The process of domestication takes the Foreign Judgment and, effectively, transforms it into a Florida judgment for purposes of enforcement.
To facilitate this process, Florida enacted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, or Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (FEFJA), which was intended to provide an efficient method of enforcing foreign judgments without the undue cost and difficulty associated with filing a new and separate action to domesticate a foreign judgment. The first step in this process is to record the foreign judgment in Florida.
Recording of a Foreign Judgment
Under FEFJA a judgment creditor (i.e. the party seeking to enforce the judgment in Florida) must record a certified copy of the foreign judgment in the official records of any county of Florida.  The judgment creditor’s attorney then prepares an affidavit, which sets forth the debtor’s name, social security number (if known), and last known address of the judgment debtor and judgment creditor.  Once the foreign judgment and the affidavit are recorded, the clerk must then mail (by registered mail, with a return receipt requested) a notice of recording of the judgment to the debtor and make a note of the mailing in the docket. 
The foreign judgment must be recorded before its expiration under the laws of the judgment’s rendering state (i.e. the state where the judgment was originally entered).  The FEFJA does not contain its own statute of limitations, and Florida courts have found that under the FEFJA, a foreign judgment is valid for 20 years under Florida law.
Once a judgment has been properly recorded under FEFJA, it has the same effect as a Florida judgment and may be enforced in the same manner.  However, after the foreign judgment is recorded, no process for enforcement of the Foreign Judgment may begin until thirty (30) days after the mailing of a notice by the clerk to the Judgment Debtor.  A Judgment Debtor can bring an action to challenge the validity of the foreign judgment prior to the foreign judgment being enforced in Florida.  However, failure to file an action within thirty (30) days does not bar a Judgment Debtor from challenging the judgment’s enforcement in Florida.  This challenge would be brought in a separate action.
Boatman Ricci and Enforcing Foreign Judgments
Ultimately, once a foreign judgment is domesticated in Florida and thereby recognized by a Florida court, the Foreign Judgment is enforceable, and the creditor may take action to collect on the judgment.
Boatman Ricci has experience representing judgment creditors in domestication of foreign judgments as well as defending debtors against ill-gotten out-of-state judgments. If you need assistance, please contact Boatman Ricci at (239) 330-1494.
 Fla. Stat. §. 55.505(1) requires that “[a]t the time of the recording of a foreign judgment, the judgment creditor … record[s] with the clerk of the circuit court an affidavit setting forth the name, social security number, if known, and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and judgment creditor.”
 See Hess v. Patrick, 164 So. 3d 19 (Fla. 2d DCA 2015), in which the Second District Court of Appeal held that the 20-year statute of limitations found in Fla. Stat. § 95.11(1) is applicable to the enforcement of a foreign judgment recorded in a Florida court under FEFJA.
 Fla. Stat. § 55.509(1) provides that if the debtor files an action within 30 days after the recording of the foreign judgment in order to contest the jurisdiction of the foreign court or the validity of the order, and records a lis pendens directed toward the judgment, the court must stay, i.e., postpone, enforcement of the foreign judgment and the judgment lien.
 Jones v. Directors Guild of America, Inc., 584 So. 2d 1057, 106-61 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (holding that “[t]he Act does not provide that a collateral attack must occur within thirty days or be forever barred. The Act simply provides that a collateral attack begun within thirty days shall stay enforcement of the foreign judgment and the judgment lien. If a collateral attack is not begun within thirty days, the judgment creditor may proceed to enforce the foreign judgment and the foreign judgment will operate as a lien”).
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