Analysis: Domesticating A Foreign Judgement
Often our clients ask us to domesticate a Foreign Judgment. In fact, we just domesticated a New York Judgment in Ohio for nearly $100,000. Let’s take a deep dive into the history and underpinnings of judgment domestication and the process to properly domesticate a foreign judgment.
The History: Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S Constitution - also referred to as the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” states as follows:
“Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”
In other words, the Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that, no matter the differences among state laws, those laws are still respected in other states. For example, if a person in New York is ordered by a New York court to pay a certain amount of money – but then flees to Ohio before they pay – a court in Ohio would be bound to enforce the New York judgment. One state’s judgments are given ‘full faith and credit’ in another.
The Reason for Judgment Domestication:
One, because your Judgment is in New York, but your debtor’s moved to Ohio or because your Judgment is in New York, but your Debtor has assets elsewhere. Either way, the primary purpose of domestication is judgment enforcement.
While the process is cumbersome to domesticate a judgment, the silver lining is the judgment debtor's right to contest the Judgment itself is very limited. Furthermore, once the Foreign judgment is registered with the new state, the Judgment may be enforced to the same extent as any other judgment rendered originally in that state.
However, a Judgment in one state is not automatically honored across all 50 states.
The Judgment Domestication Process:
Most states have simplified the judgment domestication process by adopting the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. A few outlier states that have not adopted the UEFJA, and others have adopted it with slight modifications.
The first step is to file an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment with the clerk of the common pleas court. Along with the authenticated judgment, the judgment creditor or its attorney must file an affidavit that sets forth the name and last known address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor. Finally, the judgment creditor or attorney must also file a praecipe instructing the clerk to issue a notice of the filing of the foreign judgment to the judgment debtor at the address given in the affidavit.
Ohio requires the judgment creditor to wait thirty days before enforcing the foreign judgment.
Now for the real work, the enforcement of the Judgment. Witkes Law Firm is proud to provide a customized approach to collecting your judgment. We leverage technology and the best data sources to locate assets and key information of the judgment debtor. Our team offers a wide range of legal strategies including, wage garnishments, bank garnishments, property levies, and property liens and are adept at filing in every county and district in Ohio.
Reach out to our team if someone owes you money, and you don’t know where to begin. Our team would love to help you.