If you hold a judgment obtained in another state against a resident of New Jersey, you may wonder whether your judgment can be enforced in New Jersey without new legal action being initiated. The answer is “yes”. New Jersey has adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:49A-25, et seq.) (the “Act”) which sets forth a fairly simple process by which a foreign judgment –a judgment, decree or order issuing from a court outside of New Jersey but which is entitled to full faith and credit in New Jersey – can be filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court, and thereafter enforced in the same manner as if it had been entered in New Jersey.
The process of domesticating a foreign judgment is fairly straightforward. To domesticate a foreign judgment in New Jersey, a judgment creditor must obtain an authenticated copy of its judgment from the court of original jurisdiction. The authenticated judgment must be filed with Clerk of the Superior Court, accompanied by an affidavit detailing certain information about the underlying judgment, and the appropriate filing fee. The Clerk will then issue a notice to the judgment debtor providing 14 days during which they can object to the judgment being domesticated. A creditor cannot take any action to enforce the judgment during this 14-day period. Assuming no objection, the creditor is free to pursue available remedies to collect on its judgment.
While a judgment debtor cannot use a New Jersey court to attack the merits of the underlying matter, a New Jersey court will stay the enforcement of the judgment if the judgment debtor demonstrates that an appeal has been filed or a stay of execution granted. Likewise, if the judgment debtor shows the Superior Court any ground upon which enforcement of judgment would be stayed, enforcement of the judgment will be stayed. In either instance, the judgment debtor must furnish security (a bond or a like amount of collateral) for the satisfaction of the judgment in a manner accepted by the state in which the underlying judgment was obtained.
There are, of course, nuances to every legal matter. Accordingly, it is always best to confer with an attorney experienced in collections matters to assist you in this process.