Domestication is the procedure to record a foreign judgment (i.e. a judgment issued by the courts of another State or Country) in one State in order to enforce it there.

In New York State, though the question of the enforceability of a foreign judgment is answered by the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act and Article 53 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, this only applies to foreign money judgments.

In the case of a divorce judgment, only part of it would have monetary provisions such as the awarding of spousal support, alimony and/or child support. For the other provisions that concerns spouses’ marital status, the UFCMJRA and Article 53 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules cannot apply. Instead, the courts will use the concept of comity to enforce the foreign divorce judgment.

Pursuant to (Downs v. Yuen, 298 AD.2d 177, 177 (1st Dep’t 2002)) “Comity should be extended to uphold the validity of a foreign divorce decree absent a showing of fraud in its procurement or that recognition of the judgment would do violence to a strong public policy of New York.”

Though the Supreme Court, that has jurisdiction over the domestication of such foreign divorce decree, will not review the grounds and merits of the foreign decision itself, it will pay particular attention to the procedural rules applied. For instance, the judgment should be final and no appeal possible; the defendant must have been served regularly and been allowed to defend himself. Failure to comply with New York public policy, the foreign divorce decree will not be domesticated and enforced in New York State.