What if the judgment debtor moves out of state where the judgment was awarded?

In Valuable Intelligence

WritReady.com receive inquiries from judgment creditors that have obtained judgments against debtors only to find out that the judgment debtors have relocated to, set-up shop, or have assets in another state.  The method of enforcing out-of-state judgments depends on what state the person is attempting to collect and what state the judgment originated. For instance, the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act allows for enforcement of judgments once they have been filed with the local District Court or Superior Court.  This Act has been adopted by 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.   The states that have not adopted the Act are: California, Indiana, Massachusetts & Vermont – To enforce a judgment in or from one of these states, the judgment creditor must first file what is referred to as a “domestication action” to make the foreign judgment locally enforceable.

It is important to have the judgment domesticated in order to place a lien on the debtor’s real property, wage garnishment, or bank account funds seizure located in another state before other creditors are able to do so. A lien on the debtor’s real property is obtained by recording a Writ. Before a domestication action can be filed, a creditor must first obtain an “authenticated” copy of the foreign judgment. A “certified” copy of a judgment is not the same thing as an “authenticated” copy. A certified copy only contains a clerk’s attestation that the document is a true, correct, and complete copy of an official court record. An authenticated copy however, contains not only a clerk’s attestation, but also a judge’s Certification stating that the clerk’s attestation and court’s seal are proper and in due form with the judge’s certification being signed by the judge.

In order to obtain a judgment from another state (excluding California, Indiana, Massachusetts & Vermont), a judgment creditor must:

  • Apply to the state where the debtor has property or money that can be obtained by judgment.
  • Check with local court in the new state to make sure that the application is correctly filled out.
  • File a certified and authentic copy of the original judgment to the court for the court records.

After the application is filed with the court, the judgment creditor must give notice to the judgment debtor of the filing, using the last known address filed with the original judgment. The debtor then will have a specific time period in which they have to respond.  If the address on the original judgment is not correct or up to date then you still have done your part in trying to notify the judgment debtor – see case Tayob vs Quarterspot for additional facts.