Recently, I have received a spate of phone calls relating to filing a lawsuit for declaratory relief to establish ownership of a motor vehicle. As a result of these calls, I decided to write a quick note about this subject.
This issue is prompted by a person going to Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) and the DMV telling the person, or sending the person a letter, that he/she needs to file a lawsuit for declaratory relief in order to obtain a court order awarding ownership of the motor vehicle to the person and directing the DMV to issue the person a certificate of title. This procedure to obtain an order directing the DMV to issue a certificate of title is issued in accordance with Florida Statute s. 319.28(2)(a) and s. 86.011. The court in which to file the action for declaratory relief (county court or circuit court) is predicated on the value of the vehicle.
Certain counties will have packets with the papers a person needs to file in order to obtain the court order. The packets can be overwhelming because they do require work for the person to do and certify to establish ownership and file a lawsuit. This does take work because a lawsuit for declaratory relief would need to be filed and served on the last known person holding title. Naturally, this is better done with an attorney’s assistance, but many times people think the value of the property (i.e., car) should dictate the amount of work. This is not the case because again, a lawsuit would need to be filed for declaratory relief action because the end game is always the same – getting an order from the court awarding ownership of the vehicle to the person and directing the DMV to issue a certificate of title to the person.
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