The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act provides for the domestication in Texas of judgments obtained in another state. There are two procedures by which judgments can be domesticated in Texas. The first, and most common, is the affidavit procedure which requires the filing of a names and addresses affidavit which contains the particulars of the judgment of the other state including the court in which the judgment was rendered, the amount of the judgment, the date of the judgment and the names and last known addresses of the parties to the original judgment. The affidavit can be prepared by either the judgment plaintiff or its attorney. It is critical the affidavit contain all the statutorily required information as a defective affidavit could result in the judgment not being enforced in Texas. A notice of filing of the judgment must also be mailed to the last known address of the judgment defendant. The clerk in most counties usually does this as a matter of course but we always send our own copy to the judgment defendant by regular and certified mail as well. The second way to domesticate a judgment obtained in another state or country is by bringing an independent action under the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. Both procedures require that an ‘exemplified’ or ‘authenticated’ copy of the judgment be filed in the Texas court of proper venue. Federal court judgments can also be ‘domesticated’ in state court by following the same procedure. We recently obtained a federal court judgment but wanted to use state court post judgment procedures to enforce the judgment.
Upon filing the affidavit and exemplified copy of the judgment, the sister state or foreign judgment is treated as any Texas judgment and has ‘the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, staying, enforcing, or satisfying a judgment as a judgment of the court in which it was filed.’ Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 35.003(b) and (c). The domesticated judgment essentially acts as a default judgment and the same methods used to contest a default judgment can be used to contest the domesticated judgment. The most common of these are a motion to vacate the judgment which acts as a motion for new trial and a motion to stay enforcement which does not contest the validity of the judgment but suggests that an appeal or other proceedings in the rendering state are still open and the judgment should be stayed in Texas pending the resolution of those proceedings.
Most domesticated judgments are not contested, but when they are, the most common defenses is to claim a lack of jurisdiction of the rendering court. If the judgment was rendered by default in the other jurisdiction or the party failed to appear, jurisdiction of the person or property can be raised in the Texas court but if an appearance was made or the party otherwise submitted to the other court’s jurisdiction, it cannot be raised again in Texas.