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Collecting a Judgment



HELPFUL INFORMATION:
  • What is a Judgment?
  • Judgment Lien (Personal Property)
  • Judgment Lien (Real Property)
  • Garnishment
  • Sheriff's Levy
  • Satisfaction of Judgment
  • Forms
  • USEFUL LINKS:
  • Florida Statutes
  • Florida Rules of Procedure
  • Florida Dept. of State - Division of Corporations
  • How to Collect a Judgment in Florida
  • Florida Clerks of Court
  • Pinellas County Sheriff - Civil Section
  • Pinellas County Clerk's Office locations
  • Judgment Lien Against Personal Property (F.S. Chapters 55 and 222)

    THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR MAY OBTAIN A JUDGMENT LIEN AGAINST PERSONAL PROPERTY owned by the judgment debtor by recording a Judgment Lien Certificate with the Florida Department of State. This is required before the Sheriff’s Office can levy any such personal property.

    A judgment lien may be acquired on a judgment debtor's interest in all personal property in this state subject to execution under F.S. 56.061, other than fixtures, money, negotiable instruments, and mortgages.

    • All of the judgment debtor's personal property located in Florida may be subject to such a lien. F.S. 222 provides that certain property and wages of a judgment debtor may be exempt from forced sales and garnishment to pay a valid judgment.
    • Information, instructions, and forms are available from the Florida Department of State.
    • A judgment lien against real property cannot be filed through the Florida Department of State. Please see the next section regarding judgment liens against real property.

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    Judgment Lien Against Real Property (F.S. Chapters 55 and 222)

    THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR MAY OBTAIN A JUDGMENT LIEN AGAINST REAL PROPERTY owned by the judgment debtor by having a certified copy of the judgment/order recorded in the official records of the county where the property is located. F. S. 55.10

    • To obtain a lien against real property located in Pinellas County, you may submit a Motion for Recordation of Judgment as Lien form with the appropriate recording fee.
    • A judgment, order, or decree does not become a lien on real property unless the address of the person who has a lien as a result of such judgment, order, or decree is contained in the judgment, order, or decree or an affidavit with such address is simultaneously recorded with the judgment, order, or decree.
    • Judgment liens on real property last for ten (10) years and may be renewed for an additional ten (10) years one time, not to exceed twenty (20) years from the date of the initial judgment.
    • A judgment lien against real property cannot be filed through the Florida Department of State.
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    Garnishment of Wages, Money or Property (F.S. Chapters 77 and 222)

    THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR MAY HAVE THE JUDGMENT DEBTOR’S PROPERTY GARNISHED. Garnishment involves the taking of tangible and/or intangible property of the judgment debtor that is in the possession of a third party and may include wages and bank accounts.

    • Garnishment is a very technical and complicated procedure, and as such, you may wish to consult with an attorney and thoroughly review F.S. 77and 222 and the Florida Rules of Procedure before proceeding.

    •  
      Wage Garnishment

      GARNISHMENT OF A JUDGMENT DEBTOR’S WAGES is a common means of collecting a judgment and is facilitated by the issuance and service of a Continuing Writ of Garnishment.

      • A Continuing Writ of Garnishment is a legal instrument issued by the court that instructs the judgment debtor’s employer (the garnishee) to make periodic payments to the judgment creditor from a portion of the judgment debtor’s salary, as it becomes due, until the judgment principle plus interest and costs are paid or until otherwise provided by court order.
      • The judgment creditor files a Motion for a Continuing Writ of Garnishment and Continuing Writ of Garnishment Order with the Clerk’s Office. The judgment creditor must pay the applicable garnishment fees. The motion and writ will be forwarded to the judge’s office for review. Only a judge can issue a Continuing Writ of Garnishment.

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      Bank Garnishment
      GARNISHMENT OF A JUDGMENT DEBTOR’S BANK ACCOUNT is a common means of collecting a judgment and is facilitated by the issuance and service of a Writ of Garnishment.

      • A Writ of Garnishment is a legal instrument that allows a bank to freeze assets (belonging to the judgment debtor) in its control. You will need to provide as much information regarding the judgment debtor’s account, at least providing the name and location of the bank.
      • The judgment creditor files a Motion for Garnishment and Writ of Garnishment Order with the Clerk’s Office. The judgment creditor must pay the applicable garnishment fees.

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      Once issued:
      THE WRIT OF GARNISHMENT MUST BE SERVED ON THE GARNISHEE (judgment debtor’s employer or bank) by a licensed process server.

      • The garnishee must file an answer within twenty (20) calendar days of being served, stating what sum and what tangible or intangible personal property of the judgment debtor they have or had in their possession or control at the time of their answer, service of the writ, or at any time between such times; and whether the garnishee knows of any other person indebted to the judgment debtor, or who may have any property of the judgment debtor in their possession or control.
      • Failure by the garnishee to file an answer may entitle the judgment creditor to judgment against the garnishee for the entire sum set forth in the judgment creditor’s Motion for Continuing Writ of Garnishment.
      • In the case of bank garnishments you may obtain the funds being held by the garnishee by filing a motion requesting that the court order the garnishee to release said funds. This request must be made within six (6) months of the Writ of Garnishment being served on the garnishee and should be specific as to the amounts you are requesting be released and consistent with the judgment.

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      Claims of Exemption Against Garnishment:

      • A judgment debtor, who is an individual (exemptions do not exist for businesses), may claim certain exemptions (as set forth in F.S. 222) within twenty (20) days of the garnishee being served with the Writ by filing a Claim of Exemption and Request for Hearing.
      • If you are a judgment debtor claiming exemptions, please be sure to completely fill out the Certificate of Service section at the bottom of the Claim of Exemption form as not doing so may cause you to lose important time and legal rights.
      • If the judgment debtor files a Claim of Exemption the judgment creditor will have three (3) business days (if the Claim of Exemption is hand-delivered) or eight (8) business days (if the Claim of Exemption is mailed) to file an objection to said exemptions.
      • If exemptions are claimed, wages, money, or property subject to the garnishment will continue to be garnished until further order of the court; however, they will be held in escrow until any dispute over the exemptions is resolved by the court.
      • If a hearing is scheduled, the Clerk’s Office or judge will notify the parties of the date and time via mail.
      • If the judgment creditor fails to file their objections to the judgment debtor’s Claim of Exemption within the allotted time frame, a hearing will not be required and the Writ of Garnishment will be dissolved by the Clerk. All parties will be notified via mail of the dissolution of the writ, and any wages, money, or property being held in escrow will be released back to the judgment debtor.

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      Sheriff's Levy (F.S. Chapters 30, 55, 56, and 222.)
      ONCE THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR HAS REGISTERED A JUDGMENT LIEN CERTIFICATE against the judgment debtor’s personal property with the Florida Secretary of State, he or she may request that the Sheriff’s Office “levy” (or seize) said property. Once the property has been levied the Sheriff’s Office will sell it and the money received from the sale will be paid out as set forth in F.S. 56.27. This process is facilitated by the issuance of service of a Writ of Execution.

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      Satisfaction of Judgment (F.S. Chapter 55)
      A SATISIFACTION OF JUDGMENT ISa legal document prepared by a judgment creditor attesting to the fact that a judgment debtor has paid, and therefore satisfied, a court acknowledged debt (or judgment).

      A JUDGMENT SATISFACTION MAY BE OBTAINED ONE OF TWO WAYS:

    • Privately, by obtaining from the judgment creditor, and recording in the official records where judgment was rendered, a Satisfaction of Judgment.
    • OR
    • Through the Clerk of Court by submitting a Request for Judgment Payoff with a document preparation fee payable to the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
      • All judgments for the payment of monies rendered in the Florida Courts may be satisfied at any time (prior to the actual levy of execution-garnishment or sheriff’s levy) by payment of the full amount of the judgment principle plus interest and costs into the Registry of the Court where judgment was rendered.
      • Upon payment, the clerk shall execute and record in the official records a Satisfaction of Judgment, when requested by the judgment creditor.
    UPON THE RECORDATION OF THE SATISFACTION any lien created by the judgment is discharged.

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    Forms (Please use the appropriate form for your case type.)

    Garnishment Forms

    Should you have any further questions regarding the above referenced procedures please contact the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Civil Court Records Department at (727) 464-3267 or the Pinellas County Sheriff, Civil Section at (727) 582-6240. The Clerk’s and Sheriff’s Offices cannot answer legal questions nor advise you of your legal rights. It is therefore advisable that you consult with an attorney, as these can be complicated areas of the law, before you proceed.  
     
    Forms may be filed or additional information obtained, at any of the locations listed below. Writs of Garnishment may be filed at any of these locations but will be forwarded to the Civil Court Records Department in downtown Clearwater for processing. Please Note: For faster and more efficient service, all paperwork being mailed should be sent to the Civil Court Records address.

    Call (727) 464-7000 for more information.

    CIVIL COURT RECORDS
    315 Court Street, Room 170
    Clearwater, FL 33756

    NORTH COUNTY BRANCH OFFICE
    29582 U.S. 19 North
    Clearwater, FL 33761

    CLERK'S TYRONE BRANCH OFFICE
    1800 66th Street, North
    St. Petersburg, FL 33710

    ST. PETERSBURG BRANCH OFFICE
    545 First Avenue North, Room 101
    St. Petersburg, FL 33701

    Office hours for these and all Clerk's locations may be found here.

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    Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court
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