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Collect your out-of-state judgment: Domesticating your foreign judgment through registration or through litigation

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Aggressive Collections, Commercial Debt Collection, Experienced Attorney, Experienced Debt Collectors, Foreign Judgment Collection, Judgment Collection, Post-Judgment Collections

In today’s world, commerce is mobile. Chances are, your business is providing goods and services in more than one state, especially if you are a larger company. Collecting on a foreign judgment from a debtor in another state can be complicated, but not impossible. At Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC, we regularly counsel out-of-state clients on debt collection from their debtors who have assets in Massachusetts. We can domesticate your foreign judgment in two manners: 1) By litigation or 2) by registration. Let’s talk first about collecting your foreign debt by registering your foreign judgment through registration.

Domesticating a foreign judgment

A judgment that is issued in one state, must be honored in other states as well. Under the Uniform Enforcements and Foreign Judgment Act a judgment from one state can be domesticated in another. If your company has obtained a judgment that judgment can be domesticated, or in other words, filed and enforced in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One way to domesticate a foreign judgment is to register your judgment with the court in Massachusetts. In filing a judgment, the judgment debtor is provided with notice that you have filed your judgment with the court in Massachusetts. After 30 days, an execution issues in Massachusetts. The downside is that you have to wait for the court clerks to give notice and you cannot seek pre-Massachusetts discovery until the execution  has entered. The plus side is that the debtor bears the burden of attacking the propriety of the foreign judgment on limited grounds. If you are planning to try to attach the debtor’s bank account or income stream or if you have reason to believe that they are in the process of selling real estate, this may not be the approach you want to choose. That brings us to option 2.

Using litigation to domesticate and enforce a foreign judgment

A more aggressive approach to domesticating your judgment is to go straight to litigation to enforce the out-of-state judgment. By filing a lawsuit in the state of Massachusetts, you will also be able to seek pre-judgment attachments. A pre-judgment attachment may  prevent your debtor from liquidating assets and property in Massachusetts…assets and property that could be used to pay their judgment debt to you.

When should you use litigation to enforce an out-of-state judgment?

Our aggressive, relentless effective and ethical collections attorneys at Law Offices of Alan M. Cohen & Associates LLC will use litigation to enforce a foreign judgment when time is of the essence. If you know that a debtor has real property or assets in Massachusetts, and you have concerns that the debtor is planning to liquidate its assets, domesticating a foreign judgment by registration will put the debtor on notice that you are seeking to collect on your judgment debt in Massachusetts. The choice of approach is yours, although we generally prefer the litigation approach as we find it most effective in collecting outstanding judgment debt.

When time is of the essence, we will act fast

Our debt collection attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience. We employ ethical and innovative strategies that we customize as needed to facilitate getting you paid. Contact our offices by calling 508-763-6604 or by sending us an inquiry using our online form to schedule an initial consultation.