IF I LIVE IN ONE STATE, CAN A JUDGEMENT INANOTHER STATE AFFECT ME?

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IF I LIVE IN ONE STATE, CAN A JUDGEMENT INANOTHER STATE AFFECT ME?

I live and was served in NY. I never went to TX where the judgment is from but I tried to fight it. It was a case whereby someone had distributed money and they deemed it ill-gotten. I tried to settle with the county clerk and with the law firm (but firm won’t reply). I did this from day one after receiving the judgement. Even offering alot didn’t make them return a call. I understand the case is old and now its 7 years. I believe the statue in TX to start enforcement of judgement is 4 years. I might be wrong. What is my risk?

Asked on November 28, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Generally every state recognizes the judgements of every other state.  A judgment rendered in a "sister" state is also referred to a "foreign judgment." 47 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA), which requires states to give effect to the judgments of other states, as long as an exemplified copy of the foreign judgment is registered with the clerk of a court of competent jurisdiction, along with an appropriate affidavit.

However, NY is one of a minority of U.S. jurisdictions that does not simply allow a judgment creditor to file a  judgment from a foreign judgment if the judgment was obtained by "default".  There are 2 ways that a default judgment can be entered: (1) the party being sued never showed up in court to fight the original judgment, or (2) the judgment was obtained by confession (the party being sued signed paperwork allowing a judgment to be entered against him/her). In the event of a default judgement, a party wishing to domesticate the judgement in NY must bring another action in NY. 

The only U.S. states which have not adopted UEFJA are Indiana, Massachusetts and Vermont. So if seeking to enforce a judgment in or from a state that has not adopted the Act, the holder of the judgment files a suit known as a "domestication" action.  Since the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. constitution requires that states honor the judgments of other states, the domestication of a judgment from another state is generally a formality.

Note:  All of the above applies to valid judgements only. If the originaljudgement is a void judgement, other states don't have to recognize it, and in fact, are prohibited from recognizing it. A void judgement is a judgement that fails to meet the requirements of a judgement based on either state or federal law. If a judgement issued in a state fails to meet that state's requirements for a valid judgement, then that judgement cannot be enforced or transferred to any other state.

As for your risks, they are the same as with any valid judgment - non-exempt assets can be seized (10% of wages, certain property, etc.).  In TX, judgements are good for 10 years and can be renewed.  You should consult directly with legal counsel as to your rights.


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