Enforcing Judgments Across State and National Boundaries: Inbound Foreign Judgments and Outbound Texas Judgments
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Litigation between parties in different states has been common since the success of the railroads and telegraph in the late nineteenth century. International litigation--suits involving parties from different countries--is now routine. In spite of that routine, lawyers continue to face enforcement obstacles when suing a defendant from another state or country. Similarly, defendants perceive unfairness from judgments rendered far away. Those enforcement obstacles and instances of unfairness have been lessened by uniform enforcement statutes and a few treaties, but the rules remain elusive. This Article provides a cursory outline for most foreign-judgment enforcement issues that Texas attorneys will face. It focuses primarily on the collection of money damages from judgments in civil cases between private litigants, and briefly addresses the extraterritorial enforcement of divorce, custody, other status decrees, child support awards, injunctions, and in rem claims. The Article is divided into two larger sections for interstate and international enforcement, and each of those in turn is divided into incoming foreign judgments and outgoing Texas judgments. Texas law predominates the state-law discussion, but other states' case law and secondary sources provide additional authority on points not yet litigated in Texas. For interstate judgment enforcement, these other sources should be highly persuasive because of their reference to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the uniform enforcement statutes. For international judgment enforcement, there is somewhat less state-to-state similarity. Legal discussions spanning states and nations must deal with a number of components, and the four most common are reduced to acronyms: F-1 refers to the court, state or nation rendering the initial decision to be enforced. F-2 refers to the court, state or nation in which enforcement is sought. UEFJA refers to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act either in the model form or the Texas version, as indicated. UFCMJRA refers to the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act either in the model form or the Texas version, as indicated.
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