Guidelines for Requesting Exequatur in Puerto Rico
Guidelines for Requesting Exequatur in Puerto Rico
Rule 55 of the Puerto Rico Rules Civil Procedure (32 LPRA Ap. V) defines exequatur as a “procedure for the legal recognition and validation of a foreign judgment by the courts of the venue in which its enforcement is sought.” In other words, it is the mechanism that allows the validation in our jurisdiction of judgments not issued in Puerto Rico.
Judgments entered in foreign countries, as well as those rendered in any United States of America jurisdiction, must be validated through exequatur. This procedure does not allow discussing or addressing the judgment sought to be validated. It only allows for the recognition of a judgment entered by a court outside Puerto Rico.
To be valid in Puerto Rico, a judgment issued in a United States jurisdiction must meet the following requirements:
(a) it must be issued by a court with personal and subject-matter jurisdiction;
(b) the issuing court must have observed due process of law;
(c) it cannot be obtained through fraud; and
(d) it must be issued by a competent court. 1
Criteria to be considered before filing a petition or action for exequatur:
(a) When the procedure involves the validation of an adoption judgment or a name change judgment, you must make sure that the judgment rendered by the foreign court or by any United States jurisdiction orders the name change and its entry in the Demographic Registry. If the judgment does not contain that determination, you must request the pertinent amendments to such ends in the jurisdiction where the judgment was issued before applying for exequatur in Puerto Rico.
(b) Applications for exequatur may be filed pro se or through counsel. The attorney representing you must be admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. 2
(c) Pro se litigants may request service by email of all notices related to the exequatur case by sending OAT Form 1844 to the Office of the Clerk of the court in which your case is pending.
Below are the steps to be taken when applying for exequatur in Puerto Rico courts:
Step I-File an action or ex parte petition
The interested party has two options:
(a) To bring action against the other persons affected by the judgment rendered by another jurisdiction whose validation and recognition is sought. 3
(b) To file an ex parte petition signed under oath by all the persons affected by the judgment rendered by another jurisdiction whose validation and recognition is sought. 4
To access a sample ex parte petition for exequatur or a sample action for exequatur, click on the following links:
- Ex parte OAT Form 1846 - Petition for Validation and Recognition of Adoption Judgment Rendered by a Court of the United States of America (Exequatur)
- OAT Form 1847 - Action for Validation and Recognition of Adoption Judgment Rendered by a Court of the United States of America (Exequatur)
Step II-Choose the court in which the action or petition will be filed
The action must be filed in the court of the place where the validation of the judgment will be enforced.
1. If the validation sought involves the adoption, in another jurisdiction, of a child born in Puerto Rico, the court that will pass on this action or petition must be the court of the municipality in which the adopted child was born.
2. If the validation sought involves a divorce granted in another jurisdiction that will result in the liquidation of the Conjugal Partnership, the competent court will be the court of the municipality in which the assets are located.
To find out in which court the action or petition must be filed, click on the following link to access a map of the Judicial Regions of Puerto Rico:
Step III-Payment of fees
This action or petition must be accompanied by the payment of a fee in the amount of $90. To make such payment, you must contact Colecturía Digital at 787-291-9292 or send an email to: email@example.com.
Step IV-Documents that must be attached to the action or petition
The action or petition must be accompanied by the following documents:
(a) A certified, legible, and complete copy of the judgment whose validation and recognition is sought.
(b) A true and exact Spanish translation of the judgment, if not originally drafted in Spanish or English. (Judgments drafted in English may be filed).
Any additional documents that must be filed will depend on the action or petition filed in the Puerto Rico court. Below are the most common examples:
Type of action or petition
Additional documents required
-Birth certificate of the child
The action or ex parte petition must be served on the following persons:
1. All persons affected by the judgment whose validation and recognition is sought.
2. The Family Solicitor (Department of Justice of Puerto Rico), in all cases in which the interests of children or incompetent persons could be affected.
3. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (Department of Justice of Puerto Rico) in all cases seeking validation of judgments related to judicial claims for purposes of their subsequent entry in the Registry of Property (Section 11 of the Registry of Real Property Act of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico).
4. The Secretary of Justice of Puerto Rico in all cases that, in the opinion of the Puerto Rico court, involve a matter of great public interest that warrants the appearance of the Secretary on behalf of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Below is a link to the addresses of the Regional Offices of the Department of Justice of Puerto Rico:
Step VII-Request for hearing by videoconference
Should a hearing be necessary for this procedure, the interested party may request in the action or ex parte petition that the hearing be conducted by videoconference. It is in the discretion of the court to grant such request.
If you have questions or doubts about this procedure, please contact the Judicial Branch information line at 787-641-6263 (information for attorneys) or 787-641-6229 (information for the community).
1. Judgments issued in foreign courts must meet these same requirements as well as the following:
(a) the system under which the judgment was rendered must be known for its impartiality and lack of prejudice against foreigners;
(b) the system cannot be contrary to public policy; and
(c) the judgment cannot be repugnant to the basic principles of justice.
2. An attorney admitted to practice in any United States jurisdiction may apply for admission pro hac vice in the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. For more information on this process, click on: Link to Supreme Court Rule 12 with Form- Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice.
3. The plaintiff must serve the defendant with summons as prescribed by Civil Procedure Rule 4 (32 LPRA App. V). Link to Civil Procedure Rule 4. If the defendant lives in Puerto Rico, he or she may be summoned through the Marshal’s Office of the court in which the action is filed. To such ends, the plaintiff must pay fees in the amount of $30 and up to $3 per mile; therefore, the plaintiff must first contact the Marshal’s Office to determine the number of miles that the service of summons will require before paying the fees. To find out how to pay the fees, please refer to Step III of these Guidelines. It is important to point out that the fees required for the service of summons must be acquired separately from the $90 filing fee, since both fees have different purposes.