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How long does a judgment last in Florida?

courthouse.jpgUnder Florida law, a creditor has up to twenty years to try and collect a judgment. That’s an intimidating number, two whole decades. Something not to take lightly. To become a lien on real estate, a certified copy of a final judgment must be recorded in the public records in the county in which the real property is located.

Once recorded, Florida law provides that the judgment acts as a lien on non-homestead real property for an initial period of ten years. See Florida Statute Section 55.10. The judgment can be re-recorded and act as a lien for an additional ten years. Prior to 2004, a recorded judgment acted as a lien for only seven years, but could be re-recorded up to two additional times for a total of twenty years.

In comparison, a bankruptcy remains on someone’s credit report for 10 years. However, the last 18 months is the most important time period in anyone’s credit history and often the bankruptcy after it gets old enough is considered irrelevant.

We often see the problem lasting longer for someone who allows a default judgment to be entered against them. When someone avoids addressing the problem by aggressive action against an abusive debt collector, settlement or bankruptcy, they are limited in income or asset ownership for the entire 20 year period of the judgment.

We see lots of people who know they can’t pay off the debt in full decide just to ignore the problem. Unfortunately, the problem gets bigger and is followed by seizure of assets such a vehicle used to get to work, garnishment of wages or bank accounts. A consumer usually has options, particularly nowadays when poor business records are maintained by the debt collectors and violations of law abound.

For advise on how to avoid a judgment, please contact Christie D. Arkovich, P.A.

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