Aventura Family Law

Domestication of Foreign Judgements

Generally, out of state divorce decrees can be enforced in Florida pursuant to Florida Statutes.  For example, where a former husband was ordered to pay child support by a North Carolina court, but he moved to Florida and stopped paying the court ordered support, the former wife may file a petition to domesticate and enforce the North Carolina judgment in Florida.  Upon entry of a final judgment granting that petition, the North Carolina judgment can be enforced as if it was entered in Florida in the first instance.

Similarly, the divorce decrees of foreign countries may be domesticated and enforced in Florida as well. This occurs pursuant to the doctrine of comity.  This procedure has become more common as more marriages have ended in divorce and the demand for quick and inexpensive divorces has been on the rise.  Many Americans are traveling to countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic to obtain these divorce decrees.  It is important to understand that a foreign divorce decree will not necessarily be recognized in this country.  Rather, it must meet the principles of comity among nations, be consistent with Florida law and this state’s public policy.  Essentially, this means that the foreign court must not have violated the basic due process rights of the parties, and the judgment must comport with the public policy of the state in which domestication is sought. The factors the court may consider are the domicile of the parties, notice to the respondent of the foreign action, issues involving fraud, and other equitable claims to invalidity. In order to determine whether your foreign judgment can be domesticated in Florida, it is best to have a detailed consultation with counsel including a review of the judgment in question.

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