What does it mean to domesticate a judgment?
When someone domesticates a judgment, it means they bring a judgment that was tried in one state and bring it to another state, typically the state where they reside. In Florida, this process is governed by Florida Statute § 55.501. Florida courts can also domesticate a judgment that has been entered in another country, under Florida Statute § 55.601, so long as that judgment was final in the country that initially issued it.
How to domesticate a judgment in Florida
In order to domesticate a judgment in Florida, one must file a certified copy of the judgment they are trying to bring to Florida–otherwise known as the “foreign judgment”–to the county clerk of their desired court. If they approve it, the clerk will record the foreign judgment and provide notice of that recording to the judgment debtor. The judgment creditor (or their legal representation) should also send a copy to the debtor.
Under Florida Statute § 55.509, after the judgment debtor receives notice, they have the option to contest “the jurisdiction of the court which entered the foreign judgment.” Under this provision, the debtor has thirty (30) days to challenge the judgment’s validity. If no challenge is made, or if the debtor does so in an untimely manner, the judgment creditor can move forward and collect the appropriate assets from the debtor, such as bank accounts, personal property, and more. This domesticated judgment now operates as if it had been originally filed in the home state, or in this case, the state of Florida.
In order to ensure that each step is followed properly, creditors may wish to obtain an attorney in the state of Florida if they are seeking to domesticate a judgment there.