What does it mean to domesticate a foreign judgment?

What does it mean to domesticate a foreign judgment?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Firm News

The legal system is slightly different in every state. Statutes and court precedents are slightly different from one jurisdiction to another. Some people try to use that fact to their advantage when they face legal consequences for their actions or choices.

They might intentionally relocate across state lines in response to legal troubles in one location. They may do this to limit the options of the other party and avoid additional enforcement efforts. Someone who recently lost a debt-related court case in Washington might move south to California as a way to avoid the negative impact that a property lien or wage garnishment might have on their finances.

Discovering that a debtor relocated can be rather frustrating for a business that is trying to collect on a debt. However, in some cases, it may be possible to use the laws allowing the domestication of foreign judgments to obtain repayment from someone who moved to California.

What is the domestication of a foreign debt?

Under the Constitution, a court judgment from one state is theoretically enforceable in any other state, given the right circumstances. Many states refer to this process as domestication. Creditors with a debtor now living in California can domesticate a judgment by asking the California civil courts to recognize it and make it enforceable.

In California, creditors can ask that the courts uphold a judgment from a sister state. Essentially, if a creditor has documentation from a prior court case, it may be possible to convert a judgment from elsewhere into a judgment enforceable in California.

Businesses can potentially take this step without relitigating the initial claim or even giving the debtor a chance to respond. Particularly in cases where a debtor has moved house or quit jobs as a way of avoiding collection efforts, the faster the business can move to collect on the debt, the better.

An attempt to enforce a debt from a sister state in California can help a company compel someone who has earnestly sought to avoid financial responsibility into paying toward the balance that they owe. A creditor with a California judgment may have several different options for recouping the money owed by a debtor who has recently relocated to the state.