MAR292011

Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Texas


by Joseph "Trey" L. Wood, III

There are two ways to enforce a foreign judgment (i.e. a judgment from another U.S. state or foreign country) in Texas:

  1. under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA); and
  2. following common law procedures.

Under the UEFJA, enforcing a foreign judgment can be as simple as filing an authenticated copy of the judgment along with an affidavit setting forth the name and last known address of the judgment debtor and judgment creditor (as well as the contact information for the judgment creditor's attorney, if there is one) with the clerk of any Texas court with jurisdiction. Notice of the filing must then be mailed to the judgment debtor by either the clerk of the court or the judgment creditor. After filing and notice, the judgment then has the same force and effect as a judgment entered by a Texas court without the necessity of filing a new lawsuit.

The requirements for authenticating a judgment, however, vary based on whether the judgment is from a foreign country or another U.S. state. It is important to determine exactly what is required (which may depend on the state or country from which the judgment originated) and follow the requirements precisely. A judgment cannot be given full force and effect under the UEFJA absent proper authentication.

Additionally, simply filing an authenticated judgment may not be the end of the story. A judgment debtor wishing to avoid the effect of the foreign judgment may attempt to so by filing a motion for nonrecognition of the judgment generally within 30 days of the date of service of the notice of filing (and in some limited cases, within 60 days). Such a motion can only be granted on limited grounds, which vary based on whether the judgment was issued by a foreign nation or another U.S. state, and include the following:

  1. the judgment is interlocutory (i.e. not final);
  2. the judgment is subject to modification;
  3. the rendering body lacked jurisdiction;
  4. the judgment was procured by fraud or is penal in nature; or
  5. the Texas statute of limitations on foreign judgments has expired.

If filing an authenticated judgment is not possible, there is also another option — filing a new lawsuit. During the lawsuit, the judgment creditor has the burden of proving a valid and enforceable judgment while the judgment debtor has an opportunity to present any defenses he may have to the enforcement of the judgment. The final judgment in the proceeding is then as final, appealable, and enforceable as a judgment entered by a Texas court.

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