Judgments issued in one state may only be collectible in other states under certain conditions. Foreign judgments are judgments awarded in a federal court or in a state other than the one where the creditor attempts collection. Wage garnishment is one method creditors have to collect judgments, but this process is not applicable in all states. For example, if you have a judgment against you in New Jersey, your wages may be garnished in Pennsylvania only under specific conditions.
The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act
Pennsylvania adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, which allows judgments issued in other states or by the federal government to be enforced in Pennsylvania. Not all states have adopted this act and not every state that adopted it enforces it uniformly. The act is based on Article 4, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, which dictates ‘’full faith and credit’’ be given to public judicial proceedings between the states.
One way that the creditor may collect a New Jersey judgment in Pennsylvania is to have the judgment domesticated. Domesticating a foreign judgment in Pennsylvania requires filing a copy of the foreign judgment, applicable docket entries and an affidavit containing pertinent address information with a court in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania court then notifies you that the foreign — New Jersey — judgment is now enforceable in Pennsylvania. The notice is a courtesy and does not affect the judgment enforcement.
If the creditor follows the proper procedure to domesticate a New Jersey judgment in Pennsylvania, garnishing your wages may not be a collection avenue open to them. Pennsylvania has strict wage garnishment laws. The only types of judgments in Pennsylvania open to wage garnishment are judgments for spousal or child support. However, creditors holding other types of judgments have the option of garnishing your bank account in Pennsylvania where your wages may be deposited.
If you have an appeal pending against the New Jersey judgment or if you have been granted a stay of execution against the New Jersey judgment, the Pennsylvania court will honor the stay. This means that the court will not allow your wages to be garnished or any other methods of collecting the judgment to be honored in Pennsylvania. In addition, the Pennsylvania court retains the right to issue a stay of execution for judgment collection if you, the debtor, shows the court grounds for such an action.