Florida law allows for creditors to collect on a final judgment from a court for up to twenty years after the judgment has been issued, with some extensions allowed. However, how to collect on a judgment can become complicated when a debtor is trying to avoid paying the judgment. Florida law provides ways to negate such actions and hold debtors accountable.
How can a collection on a judgment be made?
After a judge signs a final judgment in a civil case the prevailing party has a right to collect on that judgment from the opponent/debtor. If the debtor is adversarial and is refusing to pay the judgment, there are steps that the creditor can take to use the court to enforce the judgment. The first step is to move the court with a Writ of Execution to allow the creditor the ability to take the necessary steps to collect on the judgment. However, even with a writ of execution a creditor may not be able to access the property of the debtor to satisfy the judgment. This is when Florida law steps in and provides what is known as proceedings supplementary. These proceedings are carried out with the court to bring the creditor, the debtor, and other third parties before the court to determine what kind of personal property the debtor has that can be used to satisfy the judgment against them.
How do Proceedings Supplementary work?
After the creditor has had a writ of execution filed with the court, a creditor must file a motion and affidavit with the court in which the judgment was granted that describes the debtor’s nonexempt property that may be used to satisfy the judgment and identify third parties in possession of the debtor’s nonexempt property. The purpose of proceedings supplementary are used to demonstrate to the court the fraudulent transfer of assets or property to third parties in an effort by debtors to avoid having to satisfy judgments against them. Florida law, like other states, do not allow for debtors to simply avoid paying judgments against them, hence why proceedings supplementary are an important part of the civil process.
Why is due diligence important for a creditor?
Proceedings supplementary may be a tool available to creditors to help satisfy a judgment that was awarded, however, being a proactive creditor attempting to collect on that judgment is seen favorably by the courts. Under the diligent creditor rule, a creditor who brings a judgment debtor to court for engaging in what is clearly a fraudulent transfer of assets to avoid satisfying a judgment will gain priority on the court’s docket. Hence, the proceedings supplementary process is a powerful part of the post-judgment civil process that can help creditors collect on judgments that may, in other instances, be harder to collect on.