Foreign Judgment Law and Legal Definition

The 1964 Foreign Judgment Act allowed the states to enforce a judgment from another state without the expense of litigation. There are exceptions, so legal action should be always commence in the state where the defendant is domiciled. A foreign judgment must be filed with the Clerk of the Court in the county in the person owed (judgment creditor) seeks to enforce the judgment. This should include any enforcement proceedings such as a levy upon assets, etc.

There are various reasons for the court to deny recognizing the foreign judgment. One reason for denial is an appeal, which is pending in the original court. A “stay” may be granted if a debtor can allege grounds exist in the courts jurisdiction where the foreign judgment is being filed, thus creating a “stay” preventing the foreign judgment from being recorded. Such grounds include, lack of sufficient notice in obtaining the original judgment, the judgment was obtained by fraud, the cause of action conflicts with state policies in the state where the foreign judgment is to be filed, the judgment conflicts with another final judgment, or lack of jurisdiction over the debtor in the original judgment.

Laws vary by state, but a “stay” by the debtor must typically be filed within 30 days of receipt of the notice of the filing of the foreign judgment or sixty days if the debtor is not a resident of the state. Ten days after a foreign judgment is filed and notice has been given to the judgment debtor, the creditor may begin enforcement of the judgment under the statutory procedures of the state in which the foreign judgment has been registered.

The debtor may request a “stay” or be granted denial of having the foreign judgment recorded. The debtor must be shown to have “sufficient contact” with the state to establish the jurisdiction of the court to enforce the judgment. Most states vary considerably on what determines “sufficient notice” when obtaining the original judgment. If there were a flaw or it was inconsistent with the court where the foreign judgment is to be recorded, then the courts will not allow the foreign judgment to be enforced.

Statutes often provide that at any time after the registration and regardless of whether jurisdiction of the person of the judgment debtor has been secured or final judgment has been obtained, a levy may be made under the registered judgment upon any property of the judgment debtor which is subject to execution or other judicial process for satisfaction of judgments. Sale under the levy may be held at any time after final judgment, although there may be exceptions, such as for sale under levy on perishable goods. Local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.