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COLLECTING ON A FOREIGN JUDGMENT

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By Stephen J. Muhonen, Creditor’s Rights / Collections Attorney, Racine Olson, PLLP

As a judgment holder, it goes without saying that attempting to collect upon that judgment can be terribly frustrating, cumbersome, and unfruitful.  Said otherwise, sometimes the process is just an emotional and physical drain.  You invested so much time, effort and energy to get your judgment, just to find out that the judgment debtor won’t voluntarily pay as owed.  Then, to add insult to injury, you find out his/her/its assets are located in another state.  So now what?

Fortunately, Idaho has in place a statutory mechanism that allows foreign judgments to be domesticated, enforced and collected upon in Idaho.  For purposes of this discussion, “foreign judgment” is “any judgment, decree or order of a court of the United States or of any other court or an order of an administrative body of any state regarding the support of a child, spouse, or former spouse or the establishment of paternity which is entitled to full faith and credit in this state.”  See Idaho Code §10-1301.  Idaho also has the Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgments Recognition Act and the Uniform Foreign-Money Claims Act, neither of which are discussed herein.

The first step in the process is to obtain a Certificate of Exemplification from the jurisdiction that issued the original judgment.  This Certificate of Exemplification can also be referred to as a “Three-Way Certificate.”  Sometimes it is also referred to as a “Certified Judgment” as well, but be careful, sometimes a “Certified Judgment” as understood by a court is something different than a Certificate of Exemplification.

Following the issuance of the Certificate of Exemplification from the foreign court, the Certificate of Exemplification can then be filed with an Idaho court.  Upon its proper filing and required notices being provided, the foreign judgment then has the same effect as if issued by an Idaho court and may be enforced or satisfied in accordance with Idaho law.  There are exceptions regarding custody and support of minor children that must be scrutinized and followed before proceeding on issues of that nature.

Once the foreign judgment has been properly filed, the judgment creditor must then wait five (5) days prior to executing or commencing collection efforts on the judgment.  Similarly, in order to get the foreign judgment to serve as a lien on real property located in Idaho, an abstract or transcript, certified by the Idaho court clerk, must first be obtained.  Beware, this document cannot be recorded with the county recorder until after the five (5) day stay period.  The failure to follow statutory timelines can be fatal to collection efforts.  The last thing you want to do is make a mistake and thus provide the judgment debtor time to hide or secrete their assets.

If you are the holder of a judgment issued in a foreign jurisdiction to Idaho (issued in another state), and seeking to recover assets owned by the judgment debtor that are located in Idaho, give Steve Muhonen at Racine Olson, PLLP, a call at 208-232-6101.  You can also email Steve at steve@racineolson.com.

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