By: Robert H. “Bo” Trudeau

The answer to the title question is not as clear as you think, and even many attorneys get this wrong. So, what is the answer?

The starting point is the Florida Constitution. In general, Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution states that if you live in municipality (i.e., a city or town), your residences is fully protected so long as you live on less than one-half acre.  If you live outside of a city or town in an unincorporated area, your residences is fully protected so long as you live on less than 160 acres.  This protection is determined without regard to the value of the home.  To illustrate, if we compare properties within a municipality, a $3,000,000 beachfront residence on a half-acre would be fully protected, but a $300,000 inland residence on a full acre would only be partially protected.  When a residence exceeds the acreage limitation, there are two methods courts use to allow creditors to collect. First, if the property is divisible, courts will partition the property, and the portion in excess of acreage limit will be used to pay the creditor. Second, if the property is not legally divisible, courts will order a sale of the entire property and division of the proceeds between the owner and creditor.

In Duval County, determining the extent of protection is a bit complicated.  In 1968, all of Duval County (except for Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Baldwin) was consolidated into the City of Jacksonville.  As a result of this consolidation, all of Duval County is now within a municipality.  So, does that mean that the one-half acre homestead limitation applies to all of Duval County?  Fortunately for homeowners, […]