Domestication Of Foreign Judgments

If you are an individual, business, or attorney with a judgment from another state or federal court outside of New York or New Jersey, The Law Office of Jeffrey S. Kimmel can help you bring that judgment into New York or New Jersey so that you can enforce it there against your debtor’s assets located within either state. This process is called “judgment domestication,” and the procedural rules for accomplishing it will be discussed in detail below. Please note that while we use the term “foreign” here, in this context “foreign” pertains to judgments from other states in the U.S. and other federal jurisdictions.

The procedure for judgment domestication is relatively straightforward in both New York and New Jersey. In New York, however, there is a slightly different procedure required depending on whether the judgment was obtained on the merits or by default. These differences are explained below, and thereafter, we will take a look at the procedures in New Jersey, as well as the process for federal judgments.

New York Domestication – Judgments on the Merits

Section 5402 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (NY CPLR) provides that New York must offer full faith and credit to all sister state judgments and lays out an expedited procedure for domestication of judgment on the merits. The first step is for you, the client, to obtain what’s known as an exemplified, authenticated, or triple-sealed record of your out-of-state judgment from the court in which it was entered. This record will generally be signed and sealed by two to three people, including at least one judge or magistrate, at least one clerk, and sometimes a prothonotary. To avoid any misunderstanding when obtaining this document, you should explain to the clerk that you intend to file and enforce the judgment in another state.

This should ensure that you are provided the proper type of record for this purpose. Please note: exemplified judgment copies are valid for 90 days only. If your copy expires before it is filed in New York you will need to return to the court in your home state to obtain a new copy.

While you obtain the exemplified copy of your judgment, we will simultaneously prepare an Affidavit in Support of our request for domestication. Once we have the exemplified copy of your judgment, we will promptly file both documents in New York in the county in which the judgment debtor’s assets are located. The Court then returns a copy of the judgment stamped as docketed in that county, and at that time, the judgment becomes a lien against the debtor’s assets.

Click the following link for a copy of our retainer agreement for:
New York Domestication – Judgments on the Merits

New York Domestication – Default Judgment

The expedited procedure of NY CPLR Section 5402 is not available when a foreign judgment is obtained by default or confession. Instead, we must file a motion for Summary Judgment in Lieu of Complaint pursuant to NY CPLR Section 3213. While fairly straightforward, this method does involve additional preparation (e.g., motion drafting and personal service on the debtor) and carries with it an increased risk that the debtor will obtain local counsel to challenge the motion, potentially opening the door to additional litigation. On your end, the process is the same: we just need an exemplified copy of the judgment to get started.

Click the following link for a copy of our retainer agreement for:
New York Domestication – Default Judgment

New Jersey Domestication

The domestication process in New Jersey is similar to New York’s process for judgments on the merits even if the judgment was obtained by default. In either case, you just need to provide us with an exemplified copy of the judgment, and we will file an affirmation in support of our request. Once the judgment is domesticated, we serve the debtor with a Notice of Entry,  and fourteen (14) days after that, you can proceed with efforts to enforce the judgment.

Click the following link for a copy of our retainer agreement for:
New Jersey Domestication

Federal Domestication

Domesticating a federal judgment in a state court entails a similarly straightforward process with an extra step and slightly different forms and terminology. The first step is to obtain a “certified” copy of the judgment along with a Form AO 451 from the clerk of the federal court in which the judgment was entered. Then, we “register” the judgment by electronically filing the certified copy and the Form AO 451 with a case cover sheet in the federal court in the district in which the defendant is located. Finally, we obtain a “transcript of judgment” from that federal court, which we can then file with the County Clerk of the county in which the debtor’s assets are located.

The filing of the transcript creates a lien against the defendant’s real property within the county. After your judgment has been domesticated in New York or New Jersey, you may wish to enlist our firm to enforce the judgment and collect the funds from the debtor. Check out our Judgment Enforcement practice for more information. The Law Office of Jeffrey S. Kimmel has domesticated countless judgments in New York and New Jersey, and we have a streamlined process in place to do so as efficiently as possible.

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Becker v Becker

Supreme Court of Nassau County denied plaintiff-wife’s motion to convert foreign judgment of divorce, granted by Dominican Republic, to a New York state judgment because it was not entitled to full faith and credit and it did not meet the definition of a foreign country money judgment. Although a plaintiff could ask the court to recognize a judgment of a foreign country, the court cannot convert a foreign country judgment into a New York judgment except by either a plenary action or by motion pursuant to CPLR § 3213 (motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint). The present action also did not fall within the scope of the definition of a Foreign Country Money Judgment, as defined by CPLR § 5301(b), which includes only those foreign judgment which either grant or deny recovery of a sum of money.

Cadle v Ayala

Second Department Appellate Division denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR 5213, brought to enforce a foreign judgment entered upon default. Although CPLR §3213 does not require plaintiff to affirmatively plead and prove facts to establish long-arm jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant, which must be raised by the defendant in opposition to the motion, the plaintiff still bears the burden of establishing that the defendant was properly served with the motion. Upon denial, plaintiff’s moving papers shall be deemed the complaint and the plaintiff may still move for leave to enter a default judgment upon proper proof.

Fiore v Oakwood Plaza Shopping Center

The Court of Appeals affirmed an order of the Supreme Court, granting a motion by plaintiffs for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR § 3213, to domesticate two Pennsylvania judgments. The Court held that a Pennsylvania cognovit judgment, (similar to confession of judgment) a judgment based on a contractual provision whereby an obligor consents in advance to the creditor’s obtaining a judgment without notice or hearing, was entitled to full faith and credit in New York courts. To determine whether a cognovit judgment is entitled to full faith and credit, it must be determined that the judgment debtor made a voluntary, knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to notice and an opportunity to be heard

Glass Contractors v Target Supply and Display

Second Department Appellate Division reversed an order of the Civil Court of New York City, which denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint based on a default judgment in Nebraska. The court emphasized that foreign judgments obtained by default may only be domesticated through a plenary action which may be initiated by a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint pursuant to CPLR § 3213. In reviewing such foreign judgments, the court’s inquiry is limited to ascertaining whether the Nebraska courts had personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court determined that defendant had sufficient contacts within Nebraska to subject it in personam jurisdiction under Nebraska long-arm statute.


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