As creditors often discover, collection efforts on a final state judgment are compounded when a judgment debtor moves to another state.  As we know, the United States Constitution through the principals of comity, requires that full faith and credit be given to judgments rendered in a sister state, although no uniform procedure for registering and enforcing such sister state judgments was envisioned.

One method for enforcement originated in common law and is still used by many states today, to wit: filing a separate action for enforcement of the “foreign” judgment in the state where the debtor resides.  If the creditor is successful, the second state will render a new judgment on the old judgment.

The other method for streamlined enforcement is The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act (UEFJA), which was adopted in 1963 and to which Colorado is a signatory.  See C.R.S. § 13-53-101.   Colorado allows a judgment creditor to enforce a foreign judgment either by common law or under UEFJA.

At this juncture it should also be noted that a federal court judgment has certain advantages over state court judgments due to revisions of the Federal Judicial Code in 1948 which allowed a federal judgment to be easily transferred, registered and otherwise be enforceable to the law of the state in which the federal district court sits.  See 28 U.S.C.A. § 1962, Federal Rules Civil Procedure, Rules 64, 69.

The UEFJA is simultaneously a registration and enforcement statute.  Rather than filing a separate suit, the creditor must authenticate and file the foreign judgment in accordance with the provisions of the Act.  Authentication may be performed under C.R.C.P. Rule 44 or C.C.R.C.P. Rule 344.  Once authentication is completed, the judgment creditor may file it the clerk of the court, accompanied by affidavit, setting forth the name and address of the judgment debtor with all filing and docketing fees.

Upon filing the authenticated judgment, affidavit and payment of all filing and docketing fees, the clerk will mail to the judgment debtor a notice of filing.    The judgment is stayed for 10 days to allow considerations for due process.  The judgment debtor has the ability to set forth defenses as well as request proceedings for reopening, vacating or staying the judgment under C.R.C.P. Rule 62(d) as for any other judgment rendered by a court of this state.

The distinct advantage of proceeding under the UEFJA is that a Colorado court is statutorily constrained to not revisit the merits of the foreign judgment and to limit its inquiry to generally jurisdictional and/or other procedural grounds.  For example, once the judgment creditor has filed a properly authenticated judgment, which appears to be facially valid, the judgment creditor has made a prima facie case.  At that point, the burden then shifts to the judgment debtor to produce evidence that the foreign judgment is void or voidable.

Categories: Foreign Judgment