With our unique lifestyle, weather, and access to both nature and world class attractions, it's no wonder that many Americans desire to live in Florida. In fact, Florida has consistently rated in the top 5 states people move to and is reported to be the number 1 state as recently as 2021 by some sources. But there is more to Florida than smooth sands, clear waters, and theme parks. Some desire to move to our state due to some of the unique protections offered from creditors here.
Florida's “Homestead” laws can be found in Article X, section 4 of the Florida Constitution, and offer broad protections from creditors for the citizens of our state. In general terms, the Homestead protections prevent a creditor from forcing you to sell your home and/or some of your personal property, and then using that money to satisfy the debts you owe. In order to qualify for Homestead protections, a debtor needs to be a permanent resident of Florida and the “homestead property” must be the primary residence of the debtor. If you own more than one property, only a single home will qualify for the protections from forced sale. What is especially useful about the Homestead exemption from sale of your property is that there is no limit to the value of the residential property which can be considered exempt. Whether your home is worth $50,000 or $5,000,000, a creditor cannot force you to sell it in an attempt to collect a debt. So, whether you're a recent or a long-time resident of Florida, it is important to keep this in mind if you're having to negotiate with creditors.
However, Floridians are still subject to the law, and if there has been a legal finding that they owe a creditor – through the award of a judgment by a court of law – creditors do still have a number of ways to pursue collection of the debt. I am sometimes asked by clients whether the civil judgments entered against them in another state can follow them to Florida. The short answer, is yes, so long as proper procedure is followed.
Judgments can act as a lien on your property. While most homes will have Florida's Homestead protections apply – preventing a creditor from forcing you to sell your home to get them paid – there are some situations in which the lien will allow payment to a creditor if you voluntarily sell your home. It is best to contact an experienced debt defense attorney, like those at Holland Law Group, to make a plan of action to resolve your debts and make the best use of Florida's protections.
Beyond liens, the newly recorded judgment can also be used in garnishment proceedings, where a creditor attempts to take funds from the wages earned from employment, or from a bank account. Florida's Head of Household claim of exemption (or any other number of collections exemptions) may apply to you, and we urge you to consult with counsel before trying to handle these issues, due the substantial impact these proceedings can have on your legal rights and your pocketbook.
If you're experiencing any of these issues, have concerns about out-of-state debts, or questions about any debt collection matters in general, please contact us today! Holland Law Group assists Floridians from coast-to-coast across Florida in seeking relief from creditors and getting life back on track. From Jacksonville to Jupiter, from Okaloosa to Orlando, HLG attorneys are standing by ready to be of service. Call today at (941)-744-5450 for a no-cost consultation and find out how we can help you!