Domesticating Foreign Judgements

It is a common issue for people to move after a life changing event like a divorce. Many people feel that moving out of state helps to “start a new life” or they face relocating for new employment. For some, certain matters may still linger even after the divorce has been finalized such as property equalization payments, the division of proceeds after the sale of the former marital residence, or payment of attorneys’ fees judgments ordered under a divorce decree which have yet to be done or are set to be done in the future. Domesticating a foreign judgement helps to bring the case matter to the current state you or your former spouse live in so it may be enforced.

It is important to remember that if your judgment is not domesticated, then it will not be enforceable in any state except the state it was originally issued. If one or both of the divorced parties is no longer living in that state, then it will need to be domesticated in order to enforce the judgment against the party that has moved out of state.

Arizona has enacted the Enforcement of Foreign Judgement Act in order to ensure this situation can be remedied in the event that you were divorced or have a judgment from another state but the other party has now moved here. The Arizona Revised Statute § 12-1707, a “foreign judgement” is defined as “any judgement, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in this state”.

To get started with this process, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Obtain an authenticated copy of the original foreign judgment.
  2. File an application of filing a foreign judgement with the court.
  3. Record the domesticated judgment in the Superior Court of the Arizona county in which the defendant resides.

It is important to note that although the process outlined above works for registering and domesticating most foreign judgments, it DOES NOT work for registering child custody, parenting time or child support orders from your divorce in a new state. These orders are governed by specific state statutes and provisions such as the UCCJEA and UIFSA which have specific and different requirements for registration. We will discuss the registration of child custody/parenting time orders under the UCCJEA and child support orders under UIFSA in our next two blogs in this series.

If you find yourself or a loved one facing an issue regarding an out of state judgment or divorce decree and are in need assistance in domesticating and enforcing that judgment, please call OWENS & PERKINS at 480.994.8824 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.