Treatment of Foreign Divorce Decrees in Illinois

If you divorce in a state outside of Illinois (e.g. Texas) and want that Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage enforced in Illinois, Illinois will typically extend what is called “full, faith, and credit” to the judgment.” Sections 12/650 to 12/657 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/1-109 et seq.) are cited as the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. Section 12/652 provides, in part:

The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the circuit court for any county of this State. A judgment so filed has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings for reopening, vacating, or staying as a judgment of a circuit court for any county of this State and may be enforced and satisfied in a like manner.  [Emphasis added].

But what about a judgment that is entered in a foreign country? Does this rule of law apply to foreign-country judgments, such foreign divorce decrees?

Yes, Illinois examines foreign-country judgments under similar standards. While there is no rule of law that specifically addresses foreign-country judgments, Illinois case law supports that there is strong presumption of favoring foreign-country judgments provided principles of “comity” are met.

Comity is a recognition which one country extends within its own territory to the legislative, executive, or judicial acts of another. Comity exists provided: the foreign rendering court had jurisdiction over the person and subject matter; there was timely notice to the parties involved; no fraud was involved; and the proceedings were according to proper procedure.

Determining if a foreign decree is recognized can be a crucial matter if an individual is seeking to get remarried, seeking to enforce the terms of the judgment, or trying to prevent a party from re-litigating a case that has been previously disposed of in another country.




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