This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
For many people who have older debt, waiting out the statute of limitations on collections may seem like a good idea. After all, once a debt reaches a certain age, creditors won’t collect on it anymore – right? Following this logic, it makes sense that so many people simply wait out their mounting debts and hope they will eventually disappear.
The problem with that reasoning is that Florida law doesn’t have the same statute of limitations on debt that other states do. In fact, Florida has one of the longer statutes, making waiting out your debt impractical and extremely damaging to your credit and your financial future.
Here, we’ll examine the misconceptions about Florida’s statutes regarding debt collection, the right steps to take instead of waiting out your debt, and the truth you’re likely to find when searching for facts on a ‘judgment against me’.
If you’ve ever watched a television show depicting criminal activity or the court of law, you may have heard the term “ state of limitations” before. However, its context can be different, depending on where and how it is being used. Here, it simply refers to the maximum amount of time that a debt can be acted upon by a creditor or during which other legal action can be taken.
This isn’t to say that there is absolutely no legal action that can be taken beyond this point by a creditor or other entity. However, most lawsuits or other action taken beyond this point simply won’t have much strength in the court. This is what leads many people to attempt to wait out their debts in the hopes that they can let the statute of limitations expire and their debts expire along with it. As you’ll see, though, this simply isn’t a practical solution when you have a judgment against you in the state of Florida.
Despite the commonly-held belief that debts beyond the age of five years cannot be acted upon or collected, the Florida statute of limitations on civil final judgments is twenty years. Yes, really! Twenty years from the formal date of entry of the judgment against you, your outstanding debt is still actionable from creditors.
Deficiencies from mortgage foreclosures are an exception, as they fall under a different provision of Florida law. Again, when you’re in doubt of what type of outstanding judgment you might be dealing with, it is best to speak with a professional. A bankruptcy lawyer can help you determine whether your debt falls into a shorter statute of limitations or if it is still actionable for creditors.
Most people believe that the statute of limitations for their judgments or delinquent accounts is counted from the date that the account was opened or the credit was first issued. Typically, this isn’t true. Instead, timing begins from the date of the last activity on the account. This means that if your account began ten years ago but you only stopped paying toward it three years ago, those three years are all that have been counted toward the statute.
This can be confusing and frustrating for many people. However, it’s just one more reason why speaking to a financial and legal professional in these cases is so important. The common misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding the statute of limitations of debt collection are far less difficult to navigate with a professional guiding you through them!
Depending on the application of a statute, the reasons for them are numerous and varied. In general, evidence to support a case’s validity doesn’t age well. Witness memory, the integrity of documents and some types of physical evidence – these things may not last indefinitely. This is why the legal pursuit of these issues is typically limited to a certain number of years.
Likewise, the law doesn’t favor or take seriously an entity that is not motivated to move forward with prosecution when it has the opportunity. The fresher and more dependable the evidence – and in this case, the more recent the judgment – the better the chance of pursuit in the court of law.
There are a few exceptions to these statutes, as there are to any laws. Some circumstances or events may suspend – or toll – the counting of time against the statute. Some creditors may also not see fit to pursue “older” debts and some judgments may slip through the cracks without being held to the same standards as others.
This doesn’t mean that you should risk being misinformed, though. Many people mistakenly believe that the statute of limitations in Florida is limited to five years for civil judgments, leading to a lot of legal trouble for those who don’t bother to stay more educated.
Legal defense against the statute of limitations can be very difficult, even for a seasoned attorney. The laws are very specific and nearly impossible to sidestep, requiring a great deal of exception and special circumstance for leniency to be granted. It is very unlikely to happen, especially if these circumstances are not met.
Your best bet in defense against these statues is to know and understand them and avoid coming up against them in a Florida court of law. For those who need help in doing this, it may pay to consult a local bankruptcy attorney, like the experts at the Van Horn Law Group. These professionals can help you navigate the tricky scenario of having a judgment against you and avoid confrontation with creditors while doing so.
One of the most frightening prospects of bankruptcy for many people isn’t what stands to be gained - as in… Read More