Domestication of Your Divorce Decree

Due to the mobile nature of our society, it can be difficult to predict where you or your family will end up. If you find yourself moving to Arizona after having secured a divorce decree or judgment that was adjudicated in another state or country, and you wish to enforce it in Arizona, you are be able to do so once it is registered with the Arizona court – a process we call “domestication of your divorce decree”.

A judgment issued in another state is as valid as one issued in Arizona, under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution, IF it is properly domesticated in Arizona.

Similarly, judgments from other countries may also be domesticated in Arizona for enforcement, although such judgments will be subject to further scrutiny and review by the Arizona court as to the validity of the same.

To domesticate foreign orders, whether from another state or another country, Arizona law requires, at a minimum that you file:

  1. An Affidavit of Filing Foreign Judgment, signed by either the party registering the foreign order or their attorney if represented, which also sets forth the names of the parties involved and last known addresses of the parties;
  2. One (1) certified copy of the actual foreign order, judgment or decree to be registered (including an English language translation of the same with certification if your foreign order is in another language); and
  3. A Notice of Filing Foreign Judgment showing that a copy of the Affidavit of Filing Foreign Judgment, a certified copy of the judgment itself, and a copy of the Notice were mailed to or served on the other party.

Domestication of Divorce Decree ArizonaNow, if you are seeking to domesticate or register a foreign child custody order or child support order, YOU WILL NEED TO TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS beyond the above-referenced ones to properly domesticate those orders in Arizona and comply with the requirements of UCCJEA and UIFSA as well as Arizona law. Failure to take the additional steps required for a child custody order and/or child support order may stop you from attempting to enforce and/or modify custody or support in Arizona until those steps are complied with.

As set forth and detailed in our two previous blogs this month, to comply with the domestication requirements of a foreign child custody order under UCCJEA or child support order under UIFSA, you must complete and file the following with the Clerk of the Court:

  1. Family Court / Sensitive Data Coversheet Sheet;
  2. Affidavit to Register:
    1. Foreign Custody Order OR
    2. Foreign Support Order;
  3. One (1) Original Certified copy of the
    1. Foreign Custody Order OR
    2. Foreign Support Order;
  4. One (1) copy of the
    1. Foreign Custody Order OR
    2. Foreign Support Order;
  5. Affidavit Regarding Minor Children (five year history);
  6. Letter to the Clerk of the Court requesting that the Foreign Order be registered; and
  7. Consent to Transfer – if applicable.

If you need to domesticate both a foreign child custody AND child support order, you must complete and file the documents separately – one complying with the provisions required by the UCCJEA and one complying with UIFSA.

Failure to do so will result in the registration of one, but not both orders, negatively impacting your attempts to make both orders enforceable and/or modifiable in the state of Arizona.

If you need help domesticating your foreign orders and would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 994-8824 to schedule your 30 minute consultation.