If you obtained a divorce in another state or country and you or your former spouse have moved to Florida, you may petition the Florida courts to enforce and/or modify the divorce decree. 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 apply for relief through the Florida courts.How Can I Domesticate My Foreign Divorce Judgment?
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 divorce final judgment from the originating state to domesticate a foreign judgment. You or your attorney must then prepare a notarized affidavit and a petition to domesticate and enforce the divorce final judgment. 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 applicable. However, bear in mind 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.
So long as the originating court validly entered the foreign judgment, the judgment has not been modified or amended, and is not on appeal or subject to any proceedings pending in another jurisdiction, the Florida court will domesticate the foreign judgment.
You should consult with the attorneys of Hertz • Sager for their expert legal advice to determine whether your out-of-country foreign judgment comports with Florida law and public policy, or for any assistance relating to the domestication and enforcement of foreign divorce final judgments.