How to Domesticate a Judgment in Oklahoma
You have just gone through the process of obtaining a legal judgment against someone who owes you money, only to realize that person has moved to another state, or their assets and businesses are in another state, what do you do now? With the judgment being granted by the court on your behalf, it is now your responsibility, as a creditor, to collect on the debt owed to you by the opposing party, the debtor in this case. When the debtor still lives in the same state, the process can be mundane but often people relocate or move their assets for several reasons. You are entitled to your judgment, no matter where the other party resides. In this article we will assess what a judgment is and how to domesticate it in another state, as well as how to collect on that judgment once authenticated.
What is a Judgment?
A judgment is a court’s final decision on which party is responsible for obtaining what and how much. A judgment in one state can be enforced in another state under the United States Constitution, with supplementary federal and state statues. Oklahoma State Statute 12 O.S. § 682 (OSCN 2022) states, “A. judgment may be given for or against one or more of several plaintiffs, and for or against one or more of several defendants; it may determine the ultimate rights of the parties on either side, as between themselves, and it may grant to the defendant any affirmative relief to which he or she may be entitled”. Once you have filed a suit and obtained a judgment against another party, now granted by the court you have a declaration that the other party owes you that money. This makes the judgment legally enforceable against the opposing party no matter what state they reside in.
What are the Steps of Domesticating a Judgment in Oklahoma?
Once you have been granted a Judgment, it is up to you to obtain the payment from the debtor. Although the judgment will not specify how to obtain payment, there are a few ways to enforce a judgment in Oklahoma.
- Lien Foreclosure
The first step in domesticating a judgment is having your judgment authenticated by a court clerk in the foreign state of the debtor before you can begin the collection process. Oklahoma law states, “A copy of any foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with the applicable Act of Congress or of the statutes of this state may be filed in the office of the court clerk of any county of this state. The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the district court of any county of this state. A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying as a judgment of a district court of this state and may be enforced or satisfied in like manner. Provided, however, that no such filed foreign judgment shall be a lien on real estate of the judgment debtor until the judgment creditor complies with the requirements of subsection B of Section 706 of this title.” 12 O.S. § 721 (OSCN 2022).
The second step in domesticating a judgment, which is to be completed at the same time as authenticating with a court clerk, is a Notice of Filing of Foreign Judgment and a Judgment Domestication Affidavit. These documents legally list the name and addresses of the creditor (Plaintiff), the creditor’s attorney, and the debtor (Defendant).
With notice, 20 days after filing these documents, Full Faith and Credit is given to the State of Oklahoma to recognize and enforce your judgment and is treated the same way an Oklahoma judgment would be moving forward.
How to Collect on your Judgment Once Authenticated?
After you have authenticated your foreign judgment against someone, you will want to proceed with investigating their assets, a process also known as post-Judgment discovery. You will want to ask a court to order the debtor to appear for a hearing to disclose a complete report of their assets to better help you assess how you can enforce your judgment.
A list of such assets could include:
- Several years of tax returns
- Titles to vehicles & real estate property
- Certificates of stock or articles of organization
- Other documents that would demonstrate ownership of a company
- All bank accounts & recent bank statements
Judgments can be implemented through practices like, wage garnishments, levies on bank accounts, and liens on property. When collecting on your judgment it might be beneficial to hire a lawyer to help enforce it. You are entitled to post-judgment costs and attorney fees, therefore the fees that are charged by the lawyer will be added to the balance of your judgment and the debtor is furthermore responsible for such balance. A common negotiable with hiring a lawyer is the lawyer taking a percentage of whatever sum is collected, as it is collected. Doing so balances the monetary risk with both the lawyer and client seeking collection.
Seeking a judgment can be a daunting process, and even more, collecting on that judgment when it requires domesticating in a different state than it originated. Being informed on how you can acquire what you are entitled to, is significant in obtaining the debt owed to you and doing so in an efficient way fundamental to the law.