We live in a country where individuals and corporations transact business, enter into agreements, make purchases, and travel or move from state to state on a regular basis. Sometimes, these out-of-state interactions go south – a company or individual breaches a contract or a driver causes a collision and injures another person – and a lawsuit is filed. What happens if a defendant lives in or moves to North Carolina, but the judgment was entered in another state? Or, if the defendant has real property or other assets in North Carolina? Can a judgment obtained in another state be enforced in North Carolina? The answer is yes, but there are several procedural requirements that must be followed when domesticating a foreign judgment.
In order to enforce an out-of-state judgment, North Carolina requires that a judgment creditor must file: (1) an authenticated copy of the foreign judgment and (2) an affidavit stating that the judgment is final and is unsatisfied in whole or in part, and setting forth the amount remaining unpaid on the judgment. These documents can be filed in any county in North Carolina where the defendant resides or has real or personal property. Once these documents are filed, they must be served on the defendant, along with a notice of filing. The notice of filing must advise that the defendant has thirty days from the date of receipt of notice to seek relief, and must inform the defendant that, if no relief is sought within that time period, the judgment will be enforced in the same manner as any other judgment obtained in North Carolina. The Defendant must be properly served with this notice, and simply placing the documents in the mail is not enough. Service must be made in any manner provided for in Rule 4(j) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, which includes via certified mail or sheriff.
If a defendant files a response and raises defenses against enforcement of the foreign judgment, the plaintiff must prove that the foreign judgment is entitled to full faith and credit in North Carolina. This process can be tricky. The attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas Attorneys have represented many clients through all phases of enforcement of a foreign judgment. If you need assistance, please contact our office and we would be happy to assist you.