Stuart v. Ryan

Stuart v. Ryan, 232 So.3d 418 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017)

This decision is a nice review of the availability of exceptions to Florida homestead creditor protection. Despite the fact that the discussion about exceptions to homestead being dicta,  because the property in question was determined to not be homestead property, the decision provides a summary of the status of the law in this area.

The Florida Constitution lists only three exceptions to our homestead creditor protection: (1) government entities with a tax lien or assessment on the property; (2) banks or other lenders with a mortgage on the property which originated from the purchase of the property; and (3) creditors with liens on the property which originated from work or repair performed on the property.  The Court acknowledged that the Florida Supreme Court had recently recognized a fourth exception for alimony creditors, and that other Florida courts had found other exceptions for specific factually distinct situations.  It concluded that the exceptions should be limited to those found in the Florida Constitution and those recognized by the Florida Supreme Court. 

In this case however, whether or not an exception existed did not matter, because the Court held that the property in question was not homestead property.  It found that a person who "intends" to make Florida her permanent residence cannot claim the benefits of the homestead exemption if their principal residence is in fact elsewhere.

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