The Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Family Law Matters

Notary Public vs. Civil Law Notary

In a divorce procedure,  it may seem like a case has ended once there has been a judgment condemning one party to the payment of alimony or child support.

On a global scale, once the judgment is issued, there begins the battle for its recognition and enforcement in the country where the debtor has fled to escape his obligations.

In Europe, all judgments issued by a Court within the territory of a Member State will automatically be recognized and enforced in all the other Member States by application of the EU Regulation nº4/2009. However, the United States has not signed any bilateral or multinational treaty ensuring reciprocal recognition and enforcement of a judgment. Therefore, recognition and enforcement of a judgment are usually governed by domestic law.

International alimony or child support procedures

According to the Uniform out-of-country Foreign Money-Judgment Recognition Act (Fla.Stat.55.601), the judgement creditor will need to file an action with the clerk of the competent court in Florida to record the judgment and an affidavit stating as much information as possible about the debtor. The creditor will also need to pay service charge to the clerk for the recording of the foreign judgment.

Yet, this recording does not mean automatic enforcement of the judgement for the judgment creditor. The debtor is notified of the recording by the clerk and has 30 days to file an action contesting the jurisdiction of the ruling court. In that case, the court will conduct a hearing and issue an order recognizing or ignoring the foreign judgment. In case of non-recognition, the judgment creditor cannot enforce the judgment in Florida or receive the money owed by the debtor.

Let us know if you have any question about divorce or any family law matters. We would be happy to discuss them with you.

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