How to Transfer/Dispute the Transfer of a Judgment from Another State to the Justice of the Peace Court

If a judgment has been obtained in another state and the defendant moves to Delaware before the judgment has been satisfied, it may be necessary to request that the judgment be transferred to Delaware so that execution can be made on it.

Example: David Defendant was a resident of Virginia. Paul Plaintiff, also a resident of Virginia, brought a complaint against Defendant in a Virginia small claims court and won judgment in the amount of $1,000. Before Plaintiff could execute on the judgment, Defendant moved to Dover, Delaware. Thereafter, Plaintiff may appear in the Delaware Justice of the Peace Court and request that execution be made on the Virginia judgment.

To have a judgment from a court in another state satisfied in the Justice of the Peace Court, the judgment must be for $15,000 or less. Although the Justice of the Peace Court does not have jurisdiction to hear personal injury and certain other types of cases, it may enforce a judgment already obtained in such an action because the enforcement of an existing action is regarded as a debt action. To enforce such a judgment, a complaint for a debt action should be filed with the Justice of the Peace Court along with the applicable fee. A certified copy of the judgment obtained from the state court in which the judgment was entered should be attached to the complaint.

If the defendant/debtor wishes to dispute the claim for enforcement of the other state's judgment, he or she should file an answer requesting a trial. (The form for the answer will be included in the papers sent to the defendant/debtor.) The trial will not be a trial on the merits of the original claim and the defendant/debtor's defenses will be limited to those making a judgment unenforceable.

If the plaintiff/creditor prevails at trial or if the defendant/debtor does not respond and the plaintiff files a notarized "Statement of plaintiff in Support of Default Judgment", judgment in favor of the plaintiff/creditor will be issued and the plaintiff/creditor may thereafter attempt to collect the judgment.

For more information on transferring a judgment or disputing a claim for transfer of judgment in the Justice of the Peace Court see Legal Memorandum 84-122 (Supplement) Enforcement of foreign judgments in the Justice of the Peace Court.