How do I enforce my divorce judgment if I was divorced in a different state?
As our society becomes increasingly mobile, it is common for a party to move away after being divorced in their home state. If you received a divorce judgment outside of Florida and now wish to enforce or modify the terms of that judgment in a Florida court, there are several requirements that must first be met. Divorce Final Judgments from different states or countries are both considered to be “foreign” judgments. In order for Florida to recognize and ultimately enforce the foreign divorce judgment, you must first petition the court to “domesticate” it.
By domesticating a foreign judgment, Florida courts are giving such judgment full faith and credit under the U.S. Constitution and as such, the party seeking enforcement can now seek relief through the Florida courts.
A foreign judgment can be domesticated through any one of the following Florida laws: the Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act, codified in Florida Statutes § 55.601, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, commonly referred to as UIFSA and codified in Chapter 88 of the Florida Statutes, or, the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, commonly referred to as the UCCJEA and codified in Florida Statutes § 61.501 (only for issues involving children).
You must first obtain a certified copy of your original divorce final judgment from the originating state. Your petition to the court must include a copy of this certified judgment, along with any applicable affidavits. The Petition to Domesticate a Foreign Judgment must set forth the terms you want to be enforced and/or modified. All documents are then filed with the clerk the county where you or your ex-spouse resides. A filing fee is also required and may vary depending upon the county.
For out-of-country foreign judgments, the procedure set forth above is the same, with the addition of a certified translation of the judgment, if your r judgment was not written in English. It is also important to remember that an out-of-country foreign judgment must meet the principles of equity and comity, and must be consistent with both Florida law and Florida public policy.
If you would like to learn more about enforcing your judgment from an out-of-state court, call 904-608-3694 to speak to an experienced divorce attorney.