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How to Domesticate an Out-of-State Judgment in Illinois

Jan. 31, 2019

Sometimes an Illinois business needs to bring a lawsuit in another state against a customer, supplier, or business entity. If you or your business wins the lawsuit, a judgment will be entered for an amount certain. The judgment order entitles you to collect a specified amount of money from the person/entity you sued, known as the judgment debtor.

As many people are not aware, a judgment becomes a lien on certain property of the judgment debtor (real estate is the most common) in the state where the judgment was obtained. This judgment order allows you to pursue various collection efforts, such as garnishing bank accounts or seizing property that the judgment debtor has in the state where the judgment was entered.

However, if the judgment debtor has assets in Illinois, but the judgment was not entered here, Illinois provides a vehicle for you to collect on that judgment known as "domesticating the judgment". In order to domesticate an out of state judgment (or a judgment from a different country) in Illinois, you must look to the three statutes that govern the resignation of judgments.

Domesticating Judgments Entered in Another State. Illinois, like many states, utilizes the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA) found at 735 ILCS 5/12-160. In short, the statute provides that by filing an authenticated copy of the judgment (i.e. a certified copy of the judgment from the state it was entered in) with an affidavit, a notice of filing, and a cover sheet, a foreign judgment will become an Illinois judgment that can be enforced in Illinois. An exemplified judgment is a certified judgment order with an attached certificate signed by both the clerk of the court where the judgment was originally entered and signed by the judge who entered it, with the clerk attesting to the judge's signature and the judge attesting to the clerk's signature. See 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1738. Sections 12-652(b) and 12-625(c) deal with special procedures for judgments for child support and orders of protection.

In short, the full faith and credit clause of the US Constitution provides that full faith and credit must be given to the judicial proceedings of every other State... full faith and credit demands that once an action is pursued to a final judgment, that judgment ought to be as conclusive in every other court as it is in the court where it was rendered. The UEFJA is intended to implement the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause and to facilitate the enforcement of interstate judgments by providing a summary procedure through which a judgment creditor may seek enforcement expeditiously in any jurisdiction where the judgment debtor is found.

Domesticating Judgments in Illinois entered outside of the United States. The Uniform Foreign Money Judgments Recognition Act (UFMJRA) 735 ILCS 5/12-618, et. seq. is utilized to judgment in foreign countries and a second Illinois statute is known as the Uniform Foreign-Money Claims Act 735 ILCS 5/12-630. In order to register a foreign country's judgment, the judgment must be final, conclusive and enforceable. A judgment is final and conclusive if it grants or denies recovery of a sum of money and does not fall into any of the tests for inconclusiveness under 735 ILCS 5/12-621. If the judgment is final and conclusive, it is enforceable in the same manner as the judgment of a sister state that is entitled to full faith and credit.

To register a foreign judgment in Illinois, you should contact an attorney to prepare the registration cover sheet, attach the authenticated copy of the judgment from the sister state or foreign country, and attach an affidavit setting forth the name and last known post office address of the judgment debtor and the judgment creditor. The attorney will prepare all the required notices for the clerk of court and the judgment debtor and sent notice to the judgment debtor via certified mail. The judgment creditor may also mail a copy of the registration to the defendant's address and file a certificate of mailing with the court.

Contact us today for a free consultation regarding registering your foreign judgment in Illinois and begin collecting on the judgment thereafter.