If you are awarded a judgment from another state (a foreign judgment), then a “judgment domestication” must be initiated with your county clerk’s office. This article covers the details and stipulations surrounding the enforcement of foreign judgments.
Can a Judgment Be Enforced in Another State?
So, can a judgment in one state be enforced in another state?
The United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, Article IV, Section 1, addresses the duties that states must respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” This means that the highest law in our country requires each state to recognize the judgments of its fellow states. States must also respect judgments from federal courts.
The State of Texas has a process (available in Chapter 35 Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code – Enforcement of Judgments of Other States) for recognizing and enforcing judgments, decrees, and orders from the other states and federal courts in the United States. In fact, a foreign judgment can be authenticated “in accordance with an act of congress or a statute of this state,” which then “may be filed in the office of the clerk of any court of competent jurisdiction of this state.”
This process is known as domestication of a foreign judgment and is governed by the Texas Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. The Act applies to “foreign judgments,” which means “a judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court that is entitled to full faith and credit in this state.”
Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act
The Texas Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act states that judgments from other territories, states and federal courts in the United States must be recognized by the State of Texas. The final judgment from another state or Federal Court shall be given full faith and credit in Texas State Courts and the effect of proper domestication of the foreign state judgment is to instantly create a Texas judgment. Such a judgment has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures as a judgment rendered in the state of Texas.
What About the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in US?
The Texas Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgment Recognition Act provides for the recognition of judgments from other countries. The judgment must be final, conclusive and enforceable in the country in which it was rendered regardless of any appeals in the works. Upon completion of the statutory requirements for filing such a judgment, the foreign country judgment is enforceable as if it were a sister state judgment entitled to full faith and credit.
Like the foreign state judgment, the foreign country judgment may be domesticated in Texas by filing a properly authenticated copy of the judgment along with an affidavit containing the names and addresses of the judgment creditor and judgment debtor as well as the judgment creditor’s attorney in the State of Texas.
The filing must be made in the county of residence of the party against whom recognition is sought or in any other Texas county of competent jurisdiction as allowed by Texas venue laws. Either the clerk of that court or the judgment creditor must then send notice of the filing of the foreign judgment to the judgment debtor. Barring nonrecognition of the foreign country judgment under the Uniform Foreign Country Money-Judgment Recognition Act, the foreign judgment is treated as a Texas judgment and the collection process may begin.
How to Domesticate a Judgment
To domesticate a judgment, a judgment creditor must obtain a properly authenticated copy of the foreign judgment (some jurisdictions refer to this as triple authenticated or an exemplified copy). Once the creditor has in his or her possession an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment, the authenticated copy of the judgment can be filed with the Texas court, along with an affidavit of the creditor’s and the debtor’s last known addresses.
Once the judgment has been properly filed with the Texas court, the judgment creditor is free to pursue post-judgment collection activities including abstracting the judgment in the real property records and sending post-judgment written discovery demands. Thirty days after filing the foreign judgment, a writ of execution may be also obtained.
Petition to Enforce Foreign Judgment Texas
The petition to enforce a foreign judgment in Texas begins with filing an authenticated copy of the judgement with the Texas courts, seeking domestication of the judgment.
Additional Steps for Domestication
The Texas Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act also allows certain optional procedures for enforcing a foreign judgment, for instance, a “judgment creditor retains the right to bring an action to enforce a judgment instead of proceeding under this chapter.”
An optional procedure for enforcing a foreign judgment thus involves filing a new lawsuit. The process involves filing a new suit and then immediately seeking summary judgment.
Contact the Law Office of Seth Kretzer for Help with Domesticating a Judgment in Texas
Learning how to domesticate a judgment in Texas can seem chaotic without a knowledgeable attorney. Learning how to collect on a judgment in Texas can be easy. Seth Kretzer can help you domesticate and enforce a foreign judgment.
Contact our offices today to learn how we can help domesticate your awarded judgment!