Every year, many people flock to the State of Florida for all sorts of reasons. For some, it’s economic opportunity; for others, it’s the lovely weather. Whatever the reason, whenever a person moves to Florida from out-of-state or from another country, and they have a preexisting family law judgment, that person will need to “domesticate” the judgment in order to have it enforced or modified. The family law judgment could be either a divorce judgment or a paternity judgment. Divorce judgments typically include multiple agreements within them, such as child custody arrangements, alimony awards, and so forth. These other agreements will also become enforceable and modifiable following domestication.
An observer might ask: why is this process of domestication necessary? Why doesn’t Florida simply recognize any foreign judgment automatically? One of the main reasons underlying domestication is that Florida wants to make sure that foreign judgments are valid. We can imagine that someone might attempt to enforce a judgment that has been replaced or rendered invalid by the issuing court. Florida doesn’t want to enforce or modify something unless it’s valid at the present time.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to domesticate a divorce judgment or paternity judgment, the procedure for domesticating a foreign judgment begins with obtaining a certified copy of the final order. This needs to be filed with the court. You will also need to prepare an affidavit and a formal petition to domesticate your foreign judgment. This procedure helps to ensure that the underlying judgment is valid. After you domesticate your foreign judgment, you will also be able to modify that judgment. This is critically important for those who wish to modify a child custody arrangement or other highly significant judgment. No matter what your circumstances may be, a Florida court cannot alter your judgment until you complete the domestication process.
If the judgment is from outside of the U.S., then the petitioner will need to complete all the same steps, and the judgment will also need to satisfy Florida requirements regarding equity and comity. This means that the judgment itself cannot be opposed to Florida law or Florida public policy.
Although the process is fairly simple, completing the necessary paperwork, along with all the other steps, is a somewhat arduous task. This is why you should consider an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process.
The Family Matters Law Firm has over 25 years of experience serving families in Miami. We strive to assist our clients with all aspects of the divorce and separation processes, including conflict resolution, therapist referrals, and finance management referrals. We will help you divorce yourself from the fight and find peace of mind as you make a fresh start.
Call us today at The Family Matters Law Firm at (305) 701-2901 or contact us online to schedule a strategy session for legal advice with a legal separation attorney in Miami, FL.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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