A Florida judgment was entered against a client for alimony and support in October 2017. The client had purchased a Florida home in 2013, but he was not a legal U.S. resident at the time having moved from Canada. He got a green card in August, 2017. He resided in the Florida home since its purchase in 2013. The client wanted to know if his home was exempt from the alimony judgment under Florida’s Constitutional homestead provision.
A person may not claim Florida homestead if they are not a legal resident of the United States. This home became my client’s homestead for both asset protection and tax exemption purposes when the client received his green card.
The client was concerned the qualification for homestead just two months prior to the alimony judgment would be seen as a fraudulent attempt to avoid a creditor. There is no fraudulent conversion to homestead except in cases where the purchase money was acquired by fraud. There is no evidence of fraudulently obtained funds in this case. Also, any analysis of fraudulent conversion would be based on the date of property acquisition and not the qualification for residence in 2017.
An important issue is whether homestead properties are protected from judgments for alimony and support. Some Florida exemptions are not effective against enforcement of domestic support judgments. Many years ago there was a Florida case that ordered the sale of homestead property to pay alimony.
The current case law is that Florida homestead is exempt from enforcement of alimony and support judgment except in instances of fraudulent or reprehensible contact to evade payment.