Costaras v. Costaras – 3/7/2024

June 21, 2024

Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One holds that Arizona’s foreign judgment statute of limitations begins to run anew for a revived judgment issued by another state if that state treats the revived judgment as a new judgment.

A husband and wife divorced in Ohio in 1999, and Wife obtained a monetary judgment.  In 2021, Husband moved to Arizona. Wife domesticated the judgment under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (“UEJFA”) and obtained a writ of garnishment.  In a challenge to the domesticated judgment, Husband successfully argued that part of the judgment was barred by Arizona’s statute of limitations governing foreign judgments.  Costaras v. Costaras, 253 Ariz. 221 (App. 2022).  Meanwhile, Wife petitioned the Ohio court to revive the judgment.  In October 2022, the Ohio court granted Wife’s motion to revive and entered a new judgment.  Wife domesticated the revived judgment in Arizona and again obtained a writ of garnishment.  Husband moved to vacate the domestication and quash the writ of garnishment.

The issue in dispute was whether a revived judgment from a foreign court resets the limitations period under A.R.S. § 12-544(3), which bars the enforcement of a foreign judgment more than four years after the entry of the original judgment.  The superior court found that the revived judgment was not a new judgment, so the limitations period began to run on the entry date of the original judgment, not the revived judgment. 

The Court of Appeals reversed.  The court first noted that Arizona’s own statute of limitations applies to the timeliness of a foreign judgment’s domestication under the UEFJA and A.R.S. § 12-544.  Under Arizona law, the statute of limitations for a foreign judgment begins to run on the date the foreign judgment is entitled to full faith and credit.  And to determine when a judgment became enforceable for full faith and credit purposes, Arizona looks to the laws of the rendering state. Under Ohio law, the Ohio court’s entry of the revived judgment effectively established a new judgment, executable on its entry date, and entitled to full faith and credit.  Thus, Arizona’s limitation period for enforcing the revived judgment began to run in October 2022.  Accordingly, Wife timely domesticated the judgment and it is enforceable against Husband in Arizona.

Judge Williams authored the opinion, in which Judges Kiley and Cattani joined.

Posted by: Sarah Pook Lawson