I find myself writing this article because of my frequent need to explain to my clients what exactly a civil judgment is, and what it means in Florida.
In the context of this article, when I say judgment I mean a civil money judgment entered (or domesticated) in the state of Florida. There are other types of judgments, however, they fall outside of the scope of this article.
While people in the legal profession are quite familiar with civil judgments in Florida, I sometimes forget that the average consumer isn't fully aware of the concept and some of the more common implications that accompany it.
Judgments in Florida are governed by Florida Statutes Chapter 55.
A judgment is an order of a court that conclusively establishes that a party (person, business, or other legal entity) owes another party a specific amount of money. (this amount can be $0 - for those of you wondering) It is nothing more and nothing less. Tangibly, it is a piece of paper; and that is about the extent of what many judgments entered in Florida are and will ever be worth.
A civil judgment in Florida is good for at least 20 years. That means that some judgments entered in the late 90's are still valid and enforceable as of the date of this article.
Judgments in Florida are not self executing. This means that a judgment is NOT an order for one party to pay to another party the sum of money owed. It is simply the official determination that one party owes another. Many people (and some attorneys) quickly find out that actually getting paid is the most difficult part of the entire legal process.
The main concern that Florida consumers should have when there is a judgment entered against them is the potential for unpleasant collection methods at the hands of the judgment creditor such as wage/bank garnishment, intrusive and time consuming discovery proceedings, and property liens and levy.
Many people think that once a judgment is entered against them their situation is hopeless. In many cases this is simply not true. I have extensive experience litigating judgment issues in Florida and I provide comprehensive judgment defense for my clients utilizing every potential legal remedy under Florida and federal law.
The Law Office of Alex McClure provides services in Lake Mary, Sanford, Longwood, Deltona, Deland and all of Seminole, Volusia, Orange, Brevard and Lake Counties.