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Collecting a Judgment
The final judgment is the Judge's final decision in the case as recorded in the files stored in the Office of the Clerk of Courts. The responsibility for collecting this judgment rests entirely with the prevailing party. The Clerks, Sheriff's Office, Judges and Judicial Assistants cannot give legal advice. You may seek legal assistance through the Dade County Volunteer Lawyers' "Put Something Back" Program 305-579-5733 or through the Florida Bar - 1-800-342-8011.
Step 1: Certify Your Judgment:
What is the very first thing you need to do?
You must obtain a certified copy of your final judgment at the location where your case was heard.
How much does a certified copy of a final judgment cost?
The cost is $1.00 per page for the reproduction plus $1.50 for the certification.
Step 2: Record the Certified Copy:
What to do with certified copy of judgment?
Take the certified copy of your judgment to the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court, Recording Section, 22 NW 1st Street, Miami, Florida, and have it recorded.
How much does it cost to record the judgment?
The cost is $10.00 for the first page and $8.50 for each additional page.
How long is a recorded judgment good for?
Real Property (Permanent, non-movable property, such as land and buildings)
- If the certified copy is first recorded after July 1, 1994, then the Judgment, order, or decree shall be a lien in that county for an initial period of 10 years from the date of the recording. §55.01(1), Fla. Stat. 2001.
- This is a change from the 2000 version of §55.01, which had an initial period of 7 years.
- If the certified copy was first recorded between July 1, 1987 and June 30, 1994, then the judgment, order or decree shall be a lien in that county for an initial period of 7 years from the date of the recording.
- The lien may be extended for an additional 10 years by recording a certified copy of the judgment, order or decree prior to the expiration of the lien or the expiration of the extended lien and by simultaneously recording an affidavit with the current address of the person who has a lien as a result of the judgment, order or decree. §55.01(2), Fla. Stat. 2001.
- However, subject to the provisions of §55.01, no judgment, order or decree of any court shall be a lien upon real property within the state after the expiration of 20 years from the date of the entry of such judgment, order or decree.
Personal Property (Equipment, cars, collectibles, furniture, inventory, boats, etc.):
- A judgment lien acquired for personal property becomes invalid 5 years after the date of filing the judgment lien certificate. §55.204(1), Fla. Stat. 2001.
- Within 6 months before or after the expiration of the judgment lien, the Judgment Creditor can acquire a second judgment lien by filing a new judgment lien certificate. The second judgment lien permanently lapses and becomes invalid 5 years after its filing date, and no additional liens based on the original judgment may be acquired. §55.204(3), Fla. Stat. 2001.
What is the benefit of recording the judgment?
By recording your judgment, you will have a lien against any real property in Miami-Dade County owned now or in the future by the debtor.
Where else should you record your judgment?
You may also record your judgment in any other county in which the debtor owns real property.
Step 3: Obtain Judgment Lien:
Effective October 1, 2001, all judgment liens must be recorded with the Department of State in order to obtain their priority. Writs of Execution docketed with the Sheriff prior to October 1, 2001, will retain their priority until October 1, 2003. By October 1, 2003, all prior judgment liens must be recorded with the Department of State and any liens not so recorded will be lost.
How to Record a Lien?
Once you get your judgment, you should obtain a judgment lien by recording a Judgment Lien Certificate with the Department of State.
Where to Find Judgment Lien Certificate?
The Judgment Lien Certificate can be found on the Department of State's Internet website, at www.sunbiz.org. Once on the website, go to "Download Filing Forms", then "Judgment Lien Certificate and Amendment Forms", then find "Judgment Lien Certificate". Fill out the Judgment Lien Certificate. The mailing address for the Judgment Lien Certificate is:
Department of State
Division of Corporations
P.O. Box 6250
Tallahassee, FL 32314
Phone: (850) 245-6039.
Step 4: Fundamentals of Writ of Execution:
What is a Writ of Execution?
The Writ of Execution tells the sheriff to seize property of the judgment debtor to satisfy your judgment.
When to get the Writ of Execution?
Ten (10) days after the Court has entered the judgment, the Clerk will issue a Writ of Execution upon your request. However, if the debtor files any timely post-judgment motions, you must wait until the Court rules on the motions before you can obtain a writ of Execution.
Where to take Writ of Execution?
You must deliver the writ to the Sheriff's office in the county in which the property is located.
What is needed with the Writ of Execution?
Along with the Writ of Execution, you must provide the Sheriff's office with an "Instructions for Levy" form containing a description and location of property owned by the debtor.
The Sheriff's Office reserves the right to request that the plaintiff or their representative obtain additional court orders or clarification from the court prior to any process or serving of writs.
Step 5: Check for Prior Liens:
Before the property can be sold, you have to check the Department of State's Internet website.
How to check for prior liens?
Go to www.sunbiz.org, to see if there are any judgment liens filed under the name of the Judgment Debtor.
What else must you check for?
You must also check if creditors have filed Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) security interests in the name of the Judgment Debtor.
What to do after checking for conflicts?
You then give the Sheriff a signed affidavit, listing the names, addresses, and filing dates of everyone who has filed a judgment lien or UCC security interest.
You must also notify all of these people of the time and place of the sale.
Step 6: Giving Appropriate Notice:
What happens after assets are levied upon?
Once the assets are levied upon, they are stored in a bonded warehouse. A Sheriff's sale is scheduled and the sale date is advertised in a local newspaper.
How does the sale take place?
At the designated time and place, the sheriff will sell the property at a public auction. The highest bidder submits payment to the sheriff and becomes the owner of the property.
Depending on the facts of the case, other avenues of collecting judgments include the items below. Please go to the Florida Legislature website for more information on these.
- Writ of Attachment (F.S.S. Chapter 76)
- Writ of Garnishment (F.S.S. Chapter 77)
- Writ of Replevin (F.S.S. Chapter 78)
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