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 been originally 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 or 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 Court.
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, must 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 the original judgment was issued, which could affect, among other things, the relief available or the burden of proof a party must meet to obtain the requested relief. 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.
The attorneys of Maya Murphy, P.C. frequently represent clients in matters involving the enforcement or modification of foreign matrimonial judgments by Connecticut courts, and they are familiar with the family laws of other states. Please contact Ephraim J. Fink at Efink@Mayalaw.com or at (203) 221-3100 ext 109 if you need counsel.