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Monday, April 4,2011

Legal Insight

By Scott J. Topolski  

Q: I recently recovered a judgment against a former business partner.  He has fallen on hard economic times, and right now, I suspect he does not have the money to pay my judgment, but I have known him for years, and he has a history of setbacks, followed by periods of success.  As such, I expect that in five or 10 years, he may be, for lack of a better term, back at the top of his game in terms of his business. When that happens, I want to make sure that I can pursue the collection of my judgment.  Will it still be valid?

A: Yes, your judgment will be valid and, most importantly, enforceable. In a nutshell, your judgment will, for all intents and purposes, remain good for 20 years. You can obtain a county-wide lien against any non-homesteaded real property that the former business partner owns by simply recording a certified copy of the judgment in that county. There is no limit as to the number of counties where you can record a certified copy of the judgment. If, for example, you suspect that the defendant owns real estate in both Broward and Palm Beach Counties, you can record certified copies of the judgment in both of those counties. Recording a certified copy of the judgment creates a 10-year lien against non-homestead real property in the county where it is recorded, and that lien can be extended for another 10 years by re-recording a certified copy of the judgment prior to the expiration of the lien. In addition, you can obtain a five-year statewide lien against this former business partner’s personal property by filing a judgment lien certificate in Tallahassee. You can also obtain a second five-year judgment lien by filing a new judgment lien certificate within six months before or six months after the expiration of the original judgment lien. This second judgment lien, however, is a new lien and not an extension of the initial lien.


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