Domestication of a Foreign Order (Child Support, Alimony, etc) in Florida
The title, “Domestication of a Foreign Order”, implies the order needing domestication is from outside the United States. While this is true in some instances, the majority of orders in this category result from moving to another state outside the state where the order was adjudicated.
We live in a mobile society. Many people move from place to place every few years or even more often. Jobs move employees, people marry and move with their spouse, or sometimes people just want a change in their environment or a place with better educational opportunities for their children. And, since every state has their own set of legal guidelines when there has been a judgment for such issues as child support, alimony, or parental timesharing, it is necessary to follow the guidelines of whichever state becomes the new permanent address of the party concerned. Let’s take Florida for example.
The first thing a person must do upon moving to Florida from another country or state if they want their divorce decree recognized and ultimately enforced is to petition the Florida court to domesticate it. There are three ways to go about domesticating an order:
- The Uniform Child-Custody and Enforcement Act (for issues involving only children) found in Florida Statutes 61.501
- The Uniform Out-of-Country Foreign Money Judgment Recognition Act found in Florida Statutes 55.601
- The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act found in Florida Statutes chapter 88
Before the actual filing, a certified copy of the final judgment from the state of origination must be obtained. Next, a notarized affidavit and petition to domesticate and enforce the final judgment are required. InThe Petition to Domesticate a Foreign Order you must indicate all items which need to be modified and/or enforced. At this point, all documents can be filed with the clerk of the county where the party lives and the required filing fee paid. This fee will vary from county to county.
If the party has moved to Florida from a foreign country, the same requirements apply with the additional requirement of a certified translation of the documents should they not be in English. Also, an out of country judgment must meet the principles of equity, as defined at dictionary.com “quality of being fair and impartial” and comity, as defined on-line at Wex Legal Dictionary “The legal principle that political entities (such as states, nations, or courts from different jurisdictions) will mutually recognize each other’s legislative, executive, and judicial acts.”
Once the petition to domesticate a foreign order has been filed, a judge in the Florida court of the party’s county of residence will accept the request as long as the foreign order in question has:
- Not been amended or modified
- Is not under any pending appeals or proceedings in the court where the original foreign order took place
- The foreign order was properly entered by the original court
Although foreign order domestication can be handled by an individual, it is wise to use an attorney who has had experience in this area. There can be subtle issues which may need resolving and would take a trained legal professional to spot them. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, or Orange County in Florida or in Washington DC, attorney Grant Gisondo is well able to assist you with Domestication of a Foreign Order. He offers a free, initial, in office consultation where attorney Gisondo will meet with you personally to answer any questions you have regarding domestication of a foreign order and share with you how he can help. His office number is (561) 530-4568 to call for an appointment.