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Can I Collect a Judgment if It’s Out-of-State?

An out-of-state judgment can be enforced so long as certain conditions are met. Most states, though not California, have adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, though the Full Faith and Credit provision found in the US Constitution also provides for most the assurance that a judgment rendered in another state will be recognized.

Domestication of the Debt

Before you can enforce the foreign judgment, you have to domesticate the judgment by registering it in the state where you wish to have it enforced. If the debtor lives in a different state or has property outside of California, you may have to start a new lawsuit in the county where the debtor now lives.

To domesticate the debt, you need to follow the steps found in the Sister State and Foreign Money Judgment Act, codified in the California Code of Civil Procedure 1710.10.

Your complaint must have attached a certified or exemplified copy of the out-of-state judgment and a notice to the debtor that he or she can challenge its enforcement. Your complaint should have an affidavit attesting that the judgment rendered was final and has not been satisfied, and include the precise amount due along with costs and interest.

If you received a money judgment in another state, you need to file the following forms;

  • Obtain an authenticated or certified copy of the sister state judgment

  • Obtain an Application for Entry of Judgment on Sister-State Judgment

  • Obtain a Notice of Entry of Judgment on Sister-State Judgment

Make two copies of each and file these in the county court. Be sure the judgment is still valid. Most judgment are valid for 10 years and can be renewed.

You do have to find the debtor and serve him or her with the Notice of Entry of Judgment. If within 30 days after service the debtor does not file and serve a motion to vacate the judgment, you can request a Writ of Execution.

Federal Judgments

If you received a judgment in federal court, you can start collection procedures immediately, though you do have to cease activities if the defendant files an appeal, which must be done within 30 days or by posting a bond. If the defendant is a federal agency or the federal government, they have 60 days to file an appeal. You should probably wait until the appeal period has expired since any monies collected will have to be returned if an appeal is filed or bond is posted.

Defenses

The judgment debtor has 30 days after receipt of service of the judgment to file a motion to vacate the judgment. The usual defenses include:

  • The sister state judgment lacked subject matter or personal jurisdiction over the defendant

  • There is an appeal of the judgment pending in the other state

  • A stay of enforcement has been filed

  • There is a motion to vacate the judgment pending in the other state

Contact a collection attorney if you have an out of state judgment and wish to collect assets that may be difficult to locate.

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