Family Law

Domestication, Enforcement & Modification of Foreign Judgments

Often times a divorce judgment, or other family law order, has been entered in a state other than Florida, but now one or both of the parents reside in Florida or the children are now in Florida. When this occurs the other state’s order/judgment is referred to as a “foreign” order or judgment. So in this context “foreign” does not mean from another country, but, instead, from another state. When there is such an out-of-state order of judgment which needs to be enforced or modified in Florida, it is necessary to “domesticate” that judgment/order in Florida. Essentially this is a means to cause the out-of-state order/judgment to become an order/judgment in Florida.

Domestication of foreign judgement or orders can sometimes be a simple process . . . but it can also sometimes be complicated. If you need to enforce or modify a foreign judgment or order in Florida, you need the advice of an experienced family law lawyer.

Contact us today for a consultation regarding your domestication issues.

Three Ways to Domesticate a Foreign Judgment/Order

Essentially, “domestication” of a foreign order means to prove that the foreign order or judgment actually exists. Once the existence of the out-of-state order or judgment is proven, if it is an order from one of the 50 states of the United States, it is entitled to full faith and credit under the U.S. constitution, which means the Florida Court must give it full force and effect just as if it was an order or judgment by a Florida Court.

There are several ways to domesticate an out-of-state judgment/order: (1) at common law; (2) pursuant to the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, Sections 55.501 to 55.509, Florida Statutes; (3) under the “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act” (UIFSA), Chapter 88, Florida Statutes (as to support judgments/orders only); and (4) under the registration of foreign judgments/orders contained in the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Sections 61.528 to 61.530, Florida Statutes (as to timesharing or custody determinations only).

There may be some limited ways to stop the domestication of an out-of-state judgement or order, depending on which domestication mechanism is utilized by the person seeking domestication, but these are limited, in any event, and, generally, if the Court finds that the order or judgment is a validly entered order or judgment of the other state, has not been modified or amended, is not on appeal, and that there are no simultaneous proceedings pending in the other state related to the order/judgment, then it is likely that the foreign judgment/order will be domesticated.

Contact us today for a consultation regarding your domestication issues.

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Combs Greene