There’s a joke about Florida that it is actually four states that get along well enough to act as one. Due to low tax rates, housing opportunities, and climate, Florida is always growing. The state has an influx of new residents from other states and countries. As a result of this migration pattern, it is common for courts to see family court judgments from outside jurisdictions. In this article, we will discuss the process of getting a Florida court to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment.

What Is A Foreign Judgment?

Under Florida law, a “foreign” judgment is any legal judgment that a legal system outside the State of Florida makes. Since the judgment comes from another jurisdiction, they may have laws that differ from Florida. In other words, it is “foreign” to the legal standards set up in Florida. “Foreign” refers to other states or territories within the U.S. as well as other countries.

Why Is It Important To Have A Foreign Judgment Recognized?

Divorces are complex issues, so it is rare to just decree a dissolution of marriage. Many divorces include the division of marital assets, alimony, and child custody rights. In some cases, due to the safety of the former spouse and children, there might be protective orders in place. The court needs to recognize previous judgments.

To have these decisions upheld, the court needs to recognize these previous judgments.

Getting Recognition

When a person comes to Florida with a foreign judgment, the state does not automatically recognize it. Instead, that person needs to “domesticate” the judgment. Domesticating a judgment is the process of having the the Florida courts recognize a judgment under Florida law.

Domesticating A Judgment

There are three main avenues to domesticating a judgment. To have a judgment domesticated, a person will need to have a certified copy of the original judgment from the other jurisdiction. If the judgment is from another country and in a different language, then they will also need to provide a certified translated copy of the judgment as well.

The three avenues to domesticate a foreign judgment include the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, and the Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act.

Once you obtain a certified copy of the foreign judgment, and decide which avenue to pursue domestication, you need to file a notarized affidavit. This affidavit is to petition the Florida courts to domesticate a foreign judgment and serve the opposing party with the petition.

Important Note About Out-Of-Country Judgments

As mentioned already, to domesticate an out-of-country judgment, you must translate it into English. Additionally, out-of-country judgments must be fair and consistent under Florida law. If they are not, the state may not recognize them.

What Happens Once A Petition To Domesticate A Foreign Judgment?

If the proper procedures have been followed and no modifications were made to the judgment, it is not currently being appealed in the foreign jurisdiction, and it was valid to begin with, then Florida courts will domesticate the judgment.

Thompson Law Can Help

If you are reading this because you or a loved one needs to domesticate a foreign judgment in Florida, contact Thompson Law. The attorneys at Thompson Law have years of experience in working in the Florida Family Courts and will work to ensure that your judgment is properly domesticated in Florida. Contact Thompson Law for a consultation.