Florida Debt and Credit Judgment – Statute of Limitations


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Many of us rely on credit cards or loans to get by. And if we don’t pay them back on time, we get dinged on our credit or even a judgment against us. But if you live in Florida, you may have wondered, how long does a credit card judgment last in Florida?

While the statute of limitation for credit/debit card debt in Florida is 5 (five) years, judgments can last up to 20 years. 

However, if the debt is sold to a new creditor or collection agency, that 5-year period can start over. In most cases, it is far better to negotiate and pay off outstanding debts.

When an individual is unable to pay at the due date for payment, there may be trouble. At this stage, it is a good idea for a debtor to familiarize themselves with important factors regarding the statutes of limitations.

The statute of limitations is a law that indicates the maximum time/period for two parties to initiate legal action on a case. Not many people earn an income that can sustain them, pay bills, and still have enough to cover emergencies.

In this article, we will discuss what to expect when a judgment is filed against you, the statute of limitation, how to vacate a judgment in Florida and more.

What happens when a credit card company files a Judgment against you?

Situations with personal financial issues or an economic meltdown, as observed during the Coronavirus pandemic, can cause trouble with judgment creditors or debt collection agencies.

Due to the social distancing and temporary shutdown of many organizations, several individuals are plagued with thoughts of what will happen when a creditor obtains a court judgment.

Not being able to pay your bills is pretty common.

Luckily, there is a way out for even the direst of situations. In this recent article, I detail the exact plan to follow to not only get out of debt and get those bill collectors off your back but also how to actually get ahead financially.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

A number of things can happen when a credit card company wins a civil judgment against you for unpaid debt.

The judgment creditor has the right to garnish the debtor’s wages and bank account.

They may also need you to disclose all the assets registered under your name. As a result, the judgment creditor can place a lien on non-homestead property. This allows them to claim these properties until the credit is settled.

A judgment lien allows creditors to be paid from the money realized from selling the debtor’s property in a public auction to the highest bidder.

In addition, the card issuer can resort to a bank levy when other options to recover a debt fail.

When an individual does not use their consumer credit wisely, the creditor may file a complaint with the federal trade commission, the consumer financial protection bureau, or the chief financial officer of the state of Florida.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, creditors may be restricted from obtaining a debtor’s complete credit reports.

However, Florida laws do not categorize the inability to pay credit card debt as a criminal offense. 

It is not uncommon for judgment creditors to receive amounts far less significant than the original debt. In addition, a debtor can leverage asset protection to get the best deal in a debt settlement.

Judgment collection tools in Florida include:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Vehicle seizure
  • Judgment liens
  • Bank account garnishments
  • Execution & levy
  • Levy on business interests

Debtors can claim exempt status in garnishment. One of the cases is the claim of exemption as a head of household who makes about $750 or less per week in net wages.

How long can the judgment creditor pursue payment in Florida?

The statute of limitation for credit/debit card debt is 5 (five) years for a written agreement.

Remember that a debt collector is paid to recover debts. Therefore, they will continue to pressure you to pay back the amount of money you owe. In some cases, they may even sue you after five years.

The first step is to seek legal advice from a competent lawyer who can take advantage of the laws regarding the statute of limitation to get the case discharged or dismissed.

In addition, the Florida statute of limitation for an oral contract is not five (5) but four (4) years. Usually, the statute of limitation begins to count after the debtor missed the agreed payment day.

One trick that judgment creditors use is persuading a debtor to make a deposit.

Once the debtor does this, the statute of limitation no longer holds. Therefore, the creditor can file a lawsuit, giving them 20 years to collect the debt.

Furthermore, the Florida statute of limitations does not erase your debt. Instead, it prevents the creditors from taking you to court. The creditors or debt collection agency may resort to harassing you via phone calls until they get what they need.

Can a credit card company put a lien on my house in Florida?

No, a credit card company cannot claim a lien on your house in Florida. According to Florida laws, a credit/debit card is an unsecured debt. Therefore, credit card companies do not have the authority to seize exempt property.

Many individuals prefer to reside in Florida to enjoy the wide homestead protection laws. According to Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution, homestead property is exempted from levy by creditors. Therefore, a creditor has no legal right to place a lien on your house to collect a debt.

However, only permanent Florida residents can qualify for homestead protection.

In addition, the house must be a primary residence to be covered by the homestead exemption. Therefore, homestead protection in Florida is an effective tool for protecting assets.

In addition, this law can help safeguard about 160 acres (as homestead property) if you live in an unincorporated area.

Regardless, there are some exceptions to homestead property protection in Florida.

According to Article X, Section 4(a), the homestead law does not protect property against mortgages, tax liens, mechanic’s liens, and assessment lien regarding a certain property.

Federal law sets a limit for the amount of wages that creditors can garnish. The garnishment must not be more than 25% of your net wages, or the cash you take home weekly is beyond thirty times the federal minimum wage (hourly).

The creditors must abide by these restrictions while continuing the writ of garnishment until the debt is fully paid.

Do judgments expire in Florida?

Yes, judgments expire in Florida. According to Florida law, a judgment lasts about twenty (20) years. Depending on the court system, it starts counting after the presiding judge or jury trial has approved it. 

The laws in Florida are one of the most generous in the United States, as they give creditors ample time to recover their money. On the other hand, it gives debtors enough space to pay what they owe.

In addition, Federal Law does not permit credit bureaus to report old debt (above seven years) on your credit score. However, your credit history within the seven years, which is included in public records, indicates you have stopped paying bills. The final judgment on any debt is kept at the Clerk of Court’s office.

Nevertheless, creditors can get an extension via “action on a judgment.”

As a result, they can obtain a new judgment so that the clock is reset on the 20-year limit for debt collection. This is most common when the judgment creditor realizes they may not be able to collect the debt within 20 years.

Therefore, a creditor cannot renew a judgment after 20 years, irrespective of the inability to collect on the judgment. This is one of the advantages of judgment expiration in Florida.

So how do you get old stuff off your credit report?

Clearing your debt without payment is great, especially for individuals who cannot afford it. You can read a recent article that explains how to clear your debt for free.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do I vacate a judgment in Florida?

Suppose a defendant does not appear at a pretrial conference (a court date for pretrial) or respond to a lawsuit within 20 days (circuit or county court). The defendant automatically loses the case.

However, under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.540, the defendant can vacate a judgment for various reasons.

You can vacate a judgment in cases of fraud or misunderstanding. Suppose someone else stole your card or identity to get the money. You can vacate the judgment because you are not responsible for the debt.

You can vacate a judgment in the case of excusable neglect, inadvertence, mistakes, or surprise. For example, the credit card company may mistakenly debit your account. In this situation, you can save yourself by vacating the judgment.

Another ground for vacating a judgment in Florida is when new evidence is discovered that may have been difficult to obtain previously.

Furthermore, when the judgment is void, you can vacate it. For example, a prior judgment that was the reason for the lawsuit has been discharged or reversed. Therefore, the judgment is void, and you are free.

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.540 prohibits the reopening of a lawsuit. Therefore, one of the parties involved cannot claim to have new evidence that may steer the verdict in their favor.

However, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.540 has a time limitation rule which states that the motion must be filed within one year of the judgment. This time frame is for vacating based on mistakes, new evidence, fraud, or misconceptions.

Can you go to jail for credit card debt in Florida?

No, you cannot go to jail for credit card debt in Florida. Defaulting on a debt is not a criminal offense. In addition, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act inhibits the criminal prosecution of debtors in the United States of America.

One consequence of failing to pay a debt is that it is included in your credit history for at least seven years. In addition, the debtor’s wages may be garnished or his property seized to account for the amount they owe.

However, the law avails the creditors of various opportunities and methods to collect their money. Do not rejoice so early because debtors can still find themselves in jail. Failure to pay income taxes is a crime and can result in jail time.

Furthermore, a jail term may be applicable when the debtor does not act according to the court order.

Another situation that can warrant jail time is a refusal to appear for a debtor’s examination. In this case, the debtor answers questions regarding their financial situation under oath. The court may not force you to pay the debt at once. However, the judge can reason with you on how to pay back the debt based on your income and financial obligations.

What personal property can be seized in a judgment in Florida?

According to the order of the court, a creditor can sell a judgment debtor’s property to generate enough money.

A credit card company can seize some personal property following a writ of execution. However, the state law indicates that any property covered by an exemption cannot be seized regardless of the debt you owe. Personal property is quite different from real property.

Real property includes lands, houses, and other real estate.

On the other hand, personal property includes furniture, clothing, cars, household goods, boats, horses, and jewelry. Additional property items include everything else you can touch.

In addition, future creditors may obtain your credit history from credit bureaus, which may influence their decision to loan you money. The credit history usually contains your personal information, including your social security number, address, and telephone number.

Suppose two people share a property (including moveable things) that is not protected under the homestead exemption.

The other individual has an ownership interest in the property and can file an affidavit with the department of state Sherriff to reverse the judgment.

What is the statute of limitations on debt? | Creditor & Debtor Rights

Conclusion

A credit card company will not hesitate to file a money judgment against defaulters.

However, you must remember that a creditor has no legal right to file a lawsuit against you after five years. However, if you fail to respond to a lawsuit, the court grants a default judgment in favor of the creditor.

In addition, your primary residence is protected under Florida laws, so you don’t have to worry about being homeless. You could also get a free consultation online to be on the safe side.

Suppose a creditor files a lawsuit within five years of the contract. Getting a judgment means they have about 20 years to recover the debt.

In 2021, the U.S credit card debt was $770 billion, according to the Federal Reserve. This indicates that many individuals live on a low income, especially those who take student loans. In no time, the interest rates from these loans become overwhelming.

Regardless of the various types of income, you can be free from debt.

You can read a recent article that explores the most effective strategies to become debt free, even on a low income. Just click that link to read it on my site.


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Of course, while I have decades of personal and business financial experience, and have dealt with judgments and credit issues many times, I am not a credit repair expert, CPA, or financial attorney, nor do I live in Florida (where the laws are subject to change). Thus, my article should not be construed as financial or professional advice. If you need professional advice, you should seek out a qualified professional in your area.

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