Enforcing a Foreign Judgment (AKA Sister State Judgment) In Hawaii

Filing a lawsuit and winning against your opponent is just the first step in litigation. As a judgment creditor (“creditor”), the harder part is collecting on your judgment against the debtor (“debtor”). You need to locate the debtor’s assets and attach liens on them. Sometimes the debtor has property in another state. In order to have any chance to place a lien on that property, the creditor must enforce his/her judgment in the state where the property is located. If the debtor has property in Hawaii then the creditor is in luck because Hawaii has procedures in place that allows the creditor to enforce his/her judgment in Hawaii.

Under Hawaii law, a creditor who wishes to enforce a judgment that was entered in a court outside the state of Hawaii (also known as a foreign or sister state judgment) must file a copy of such judgment, exemplified by the originating court, with the Hawaii state court having jurisdiction over the judgment. Pursuant to Chapter 636C of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, the Hawaii court in which the foreign judgment is filed will treat this judgment in the same manner as it was originally entered by a Hawaii court. That is, the foreign judgment has the same effect and is subject to the same procedures, defenses, and proceedings of reopening, vacating, or staying as a judgment of a court of the State, including establishing a lien, and may be enforced or satisfied in a like manner.

The following are the procedures that must be followed when filing a foreign judgment on a Hawaii state court:

1. The creditor needs to obtain an exemplified foreign judgment that will eventually be filed with the Hawaii court.

2. The creditor’s attorney must file an Ex Parte Motion for Entry of Foreign Judgment. The Hawaii court will the docket the motion as a special proceeding.

3. The creditor will need to prepare a Notice of Entry of Judgment/Order.

4. The Ex Parte Motion for Entry of Foreign Judgment would then be filed with the Hawaii court along with sufficient copies of the Notice of Entry of Judgment/Order.

5. The filing fee would be as follows:

a. For Hawaii circuit courts, a $415 fee.

b. For Hawaii district courts, a $120 fee.

6. Although it is not required, the creditor may serve a copy of the judgment (or notice of filing) on the debtor.

7. The creditor must prepare a Notice of Filing Foreign Judgment and a pre-stamped envelope that has been addressed to the debtor, and present these items with the exemplified foreign judgment to the clerk’s office.

Once the creditor obtains a Hawaii judgment for the foreign judgment, the creditor can then pursue a judgment lien on the debtor’s assets, if any, in Hawaii.

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