Can a Connecticut Court Enforce or Modify My Divorce Judgment if it Was Issued in Another State?

Under Connecticut law, any party to a matrimonial action brought in another state can file a certified copy of such a “foreign” state’s divorce judgment in Connecticut Superior Court.  So long as the foreign judgment is final and has not been altered, suspended, or vacated, it will become a judgment of the Connecticut court and – with one important distinction noted below – will be treated in the same manner as if the divorce had originally been granted in Connecticut.

The party who files the foreign judgment in Connecticut must notify his or her former spouse by sending the relevant papers to the spouse’s last known address by registered mail within five (5) days of filing, and through personal service by a Connecticut State Marshal.  However, the filing party may not move the Connecticut court to enforce or modify the judgment until twenty (20) days after these papers have been served.  Once the twenty-day period has expired, either party can then file post-judgment motions in the Connecticut Superior Courts.

One distinction between divorce judgments originally obtained in Connecticut and foreign judgments later filed there should be noted.  With such foreign judgments, Connecticut law mandates that courts apply the substantive law of the state in which the judgment was originally obtained.  Accordingly, a Connecticut court reviewing a Florida judgment in response to a request to modify its child support provisions, for example, would apply Florida law governing the modification of child support.  In such cases, there may be material differences between Connecticut law and the law of the state in which original judgment was issued, which could affect, for example, the relief available or the burden of proof a party must meet to obtain the requested relief, among other things.  It is therefore advisable to consult with a Connecticut matrimonial attorney who also is familiar with the relevant foreign state’s family laws before filing a foreign judgment in Connecticut.

If you have questions regarding divorce or any family law matter, contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.