How to Enforce a Judgment in Another State

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A judgment is a legal decision issued by a court that settles a dispute between parties. It may require the losing party to pay money or return property to the winning party.

Enforcing a judgment in another state is crucial because it enables the winning party, also known as the judgment creditor, to collect money or property owed to them by the losing party, or the judgment debtor, who has moved or has assets in another state.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on enforcing a judgment in another state. It will cover the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, the process of enforcement in state and federal courts, methods of enforcement, and potential challenges that may arise. Additionally, we'll emphasize the importance of seeking professional assistance and provide recommendations for individuals seeking to enforce a judgment in another state.

Understanding the Basics of Judgment Enforcement

When a court determines that a judgment debtor owes money to a judgment creditor, the creditor has the right to enforce the judgment against the debtor's assets. The creditor is the person who obtained the judgment, while the judgment debtor is the person who owes the money.

There are different types of judgments, such as money judgments, which require the debtor to pay a certain amount of money, and specific performance judgments, which require the debtor to perform a specific action.

State and federal courts have a role in enforcing judgments, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires each state to recognize and enforce judgments from other states. State statutes govern the judgment enforcement process, including the methods that can be used to collect the debt.

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A foreign court can help enforce an out-of-state judgment.

Enforcing a Judgment in Another State

If a judgment has been obtained in one state against a debtor who has assets in another, the creditor can enforce the judgment in the state where the assets are located. The process of enforcing a judgment in another state involves several steps.

Explanation of the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act

One way to enforce a judgment in another state is by utilizing the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA), which most states have adopted in the US. The UEFJA provides a streamlined process for enforcing a judgment obtained in one state in another state. Under the UEFJA, the creditor can file the original judgment and obtain a certified copy to file in the other state.

How to enforce a judgment in another state using the foreign judgment process

Sometimes, a creditor may need to use the foreign judgment process to enforce a judgment in another state. This involves filing a new lawsuit in the state where the assets are located and presenting the original judgment as evidence. The creditor must also comply with personal jurisdiction rules in the state where the lawsuit is filed.

Overview of the enforcement process in state and federal courts

The process of enforcing a judgment in another state can occur in either state or federal court, depending on the circumstances. If the judgment was originally obtained in state court, it could be enforced in either state or federal court. If the judgment was originally obtained in federal court, it must be enforced in federal court.

Obtaining an exemplified copy of the judgment

Before a judgment can be enforced in another state, the creditor must obtain an exemplified copy from the issuing court. This copy must be certified by the court and include the court’s seal.

Filing the judgment with the appropriate court

Once the creditor has obtained an exemplified copy of the judgment, it must be filed with the appropriate court in the state where the assets are located. The court will then issue a notice of the judgment to the judgment debtor.

Personal jurisdiction and its importance in judgment enforcement

Personal jurisdiction is a key issue in judgment enforcement, as the court must have jurisdiction over the judgment debtor to enforce the judgment. This means that the debtor must have sufficient contact with the state where the judgment is being enforced, such as owning property or conducting business there.

Role of judgment collectors in the enforcement process

Judgment collectors can play an essential role in the enforcement process by helping creditors locate the debtor’s assets and collect the judgment. They can also assist with wage garnishments and other collection procedures and may have access to databases that can help locate verifiable assets. Working with a reputable judgment collector who follows fair debt collection practices and complies with all state and federal laws is important.

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Always leverage all tools available at the court level to enforce your money judgment.

Methods of Judgment Enforcement

  • Wage garnishment: involves obtaining a court order to deduct a portion of the debtor's wages until the judgment is paid off.
  • Bank account levies: involves freezing the debtor's bank account and seizing funds to satisfy the judgment.
  • Liens on property: involves placing a legal claim on the debtor's property, preventing them from selling or transferring ownership until the judgment is paid.
  • Seizure and sale of personal property: involve taking possession of the debtor's personal property and selling it to satisfy the judgment.
  • Sale of real property: involves obtaining a court order to sell the debtor's real property (e.g., house, land) to satisfy the judgment.
  • Debtor examination: involves summoning the debtor to court to answer questions about their assets and income and to determine their ability to pay the judgment.
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): regulates the conduct of debt collectors and prohibits certain practices, such as harassment or misrepresentation. The FDCPA applies to judgment creditors who are also debt collectors, and violations can result in legal consequences.

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Judgement enforcers can help secure your judgment at all levels, regardless of if it came from a district court or is a state court judgment.

Challenges in Enforcing Judgments in Another State

Enforcing a judgment in another state can sometimes be challenging, and judgment creditors may face various obstacles during the enforcement process. Some common challenges that judgment creditors may encounter include a debtor's refusal to pay, difficulty locating the debtor's assets, and different state laws governing judgment enforcement.

Debtor's refusal to pay

One of the most significant challenges in enforcing a judgment is when the debtor refuses to pay. In such cases, the creditor may resort to wage garnishment, bank levies, or other collection procedures. However, these measures may not always be effective, and the creditor may need to seek legal counsel to explore other options.

Difficulty in locating debtor's assets

Another challenge in enforcing a judgment in another state is locating the debtor's assets. If the debtor has moved out of state, it may be challenging to determine where their assets are located, primarily if the debtor has not provided a post office address or a forwarding address. In such cases, the judgment creditor may need to hire a local counsel or a private investigator to locate the debtor's property.

Different state laws governing judgment enforcement

Another challenge is that different states have different laws governing judgment enforcement. While some states have the same procedures for enforcing judgments as the issuing state, others may have different requirements, making enforcing a judgment across state lines more challenging. Therefore, judgment creditors need to be aware of the laws in the state where they seek to enforce the judgment.

Enforcing judgments in foreign countries

Finally, enforcing a judgment in a foreign country can be challenging due to the differences in legal systems, language barriers, and the lack of a uniform enforcement process. In such cases, the judgment creditor may need to obtain legal counsel in the foreign country or explore other options, such as negotiating a settlement with the debtor.

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Sometimes collection efforts hit hurdles.


Enforcing a judgment in another state can be a complex process that requires a clear understanding of the relevant laws and procedures. We discussed the definition of a judgment, the importance of enforcing a judgment in another state, and the challenges that can arise during the enforcement process.

We also explored the different judgment enforcement methods, including wage garnishment, bank account levies, liens on property, and more. It is recommended to seek judgment collection services or legal counsel to ensure that your judgment is enforced properly and effectively. Remember to stay persistent and diligent in the pursuit of your legal rights.

Alternatively, agencies like The Judgment Solutions in Los Angeles offer full-scope judgment collection services anywhere in the nation. Contact us for a no-obligation, zero-cost consultation to explore your options.

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