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Can you enforce an out-of-state debt-related judgment in Texas?

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2023 | Civil Litigation

When someone doesn’t want to pay a debt, it can be a real headache to try to hold them accountable for it. Businesses sometimes have to hire specialists, called skip tracers, to track down those attempting to avoid responsibility for their debts.

Some people will change their phone numbers, move in with friends or return mail unopened in their efforts to avoid collection activities. When people make every possible effort to avoid paying their debts, creditors eventually need to take more aggressive steps. For example, creditors sometimes need to take debtors to civil court to demand repayment.

You may have already gone to court before

Filing a civil lawsuit over a default on a debt allows a creditor to secure a judgment in many cases. That judgment can lead to wage garnishment, which is often an effective means of forcing debt repayment.

Someone who has already gone to great lengths to avoid their financial responsibilities may continue to do so after losing their case in court. They could very well disappear again, forcing you to locate them. If they have moved across state lines, you may worry about whether your existing judgment has become worthless.

If you have a judgment from elsewhere, what is your next step when tracking a non-compliant debtor to Texas?

You can domesticate the foreign judgment

Technically, civil statutes are different in every state, but reciprocity rules allow states to acknowledge paperwork from other court systems. Texas allows businesses and individual creditors to ask the civil courts to domesticate an existing judgment from another state.

Creditors must present information regarding the debt and the judgment paperwork to the courts. A thorough review is necessary, but in many cases, the judge can then domesticate an existing judgment, allowing a creditor to enforce it just like they would a judgment secured in the Texas civil courts.

The benefits of this process are numerous. It is faster and often more cost-effective than attempting to pursue a second lawsuit. Additionally, once someone learns that a judgment from another state becomes enforceable wherever they move, they might cease in their consistent efforts to avoid responsibility for their debts.

Reviewing your existing judgment and going over your collections history can be a good start if you believe that you could benefit from help from the civil courts to help you collect a debt in Texas.