How can I domesticate or register a foreign judgment in Arizona?
The Arizona state legislature has enacted the Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act in order to help remedy this exact situation. A judgment from another state can be “domesticated” and thus become enforceable in Arizona. This means that if you have a foreign judgment, you may be able to still collect on the judgment in the state of Arizona as if a court in Arizona delivered the original judgment.
Under Arizona Revised Statute § 12-1701, a “foreign judgment” is defined as “ any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in this state”. So, under this statute, a judgment from an out-of-state court would be considered a foreign judgment.
The Domestication Process
Domesticating the Foreign Judgment
To get started on domesticating the foreign judgment in Arizona (sometimes referred to as registering the foreign judgment in Arizona), you must procure an authenticated copy or exemplified copy of your original foreign judgment. Please note that this is different from a certified copy of the judgment. To receive the authenticated copy of your judgment, you need to contact the court that originally issued the judgment and receive the authenticated copy of the judgment from that court. Once you have the authenticated judgment from the original court, you can begin the domestication process of the foreign judgment in Arizona.
Filing Foreign Judgment
Next you need to file an application of filing foreign judgment with the court and provide the authenticated copy of your judgment to the clerk’s office of any superior court in Arizona. The court is then to treat the judgment as an Arizona judgment for purpose of collection. This means that you can record the domesticated judgment in any Arizona county and that it will be a lien on the real property owned by the judgment debtor in the county in which it is recorded. This also means that you are able to start any collection process available under law such as garnishment of earnings and non-earnings, writs of execution, etc.
When the application of filing foreign judgment is filed with the clerk of the court, it must be accompanied by an affidavit. An affidavit is a sworn written statement of facts. This affidavit must state the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor. In addition to filing the foreign judgment and the affidavit, you must also mail notice and a copy of the filing to the judgment debtor to the same address given to the clerk in the affidavit. The notice must include your name and post office address in Arizona. You must also file proof of the mailing of the notice to the clerk of the court. It is very important that the debtor receives notice of the domestication proceedings. If proper notice is not given to the debtor, you may not be able to collect on your judgment in Arizona.
One thing to note is that any defenses the debtor had in the original judgment may still potentially be available to them in the domestication proceedings in Arizona. Furthermore, domesticating a foreign judgment in Arizona may be stalled depending on the current state of your original judgment. If your debtor is able to show that the original judgment is not completely finalized or decided, domesticating the judgment in Arizona may be postponed or “stayed”.
No action can be taken on the foreign judgment in Arizona until twenty days after you mail notice of the filing and file proof of the mailing with the clerk of the court.