That is, a place where you can hide yourself, and/or your assets, from those who’d like to take a nice fat financial swipe at them… for a legal cause, of course.

To pose the question is another manner? can one become judgment proof simply by moving, lock, stock and barrel, to Costa Rica?

The technical answer is no. However, moving everything to Costa Rica will make it a whole lot harder for any creditor to reach you.

The answer is technically no because foreign judgments actually are enforceable in Costa Rica, by means of a rather involved court process called an “exequatur.”

An exequatur is a determination by a Costa Rican court declaring that a foreign judgment, or decision of a foreign court, is legally enforceable in Costa Rica.

The particular court in Costa Rica that does this is called the Sala Primera of the Corte Suprema de Justicia (Sala I), the first division of the supreme court of Costa Rica. It alone decides what foreign judgments are enforceable here and which are not.

A party holding a judgment against you can petition the Sala I to enforce said judgment against you in Costa Rica. The court in Costa Rica will not retry the case. It only approves, or denies, the exequatur.

For a foreign judgment to be declared enforceable in Costa Rica Your creditor must supply the
following information to the court:

  1. The judgment from the foreign court translated and authenticated?
  2. Proof that the defendant (you) was properly served with the legal action in accordance with the laws of the country from which the case originates?
  3. Proof the defendant was properly served with the final judgment?
  4. Evidence the legal matter is not exclusively a Costa Rican one?
  5. Proof the judgment is enforceable in the country from which It originates?
  6. Proof that the judgment is not contrary to Costa Rica’s laws.

Most private interest exequaturs in Costa Rica have to do with family law matters, like divorce, or approving other martial affairs. The remaining ones usually have to do with adoption, or child support.

Court settlements and arbitration judgments are also enforceable using the process of exequatur.

So, yes, it is possible for your creditor to reach you in Costa Rica, but it isn’t easy. It will take time, probably a lot of time…and money.

Unless the issue is particularly egregious, that is, unless it involves an amount that would motivate someone to spend the considerable time and money to go after you via exequatur, you and your Costa Rica assets are probably safe from foreign judgments.

Now, does that mean you should actually consider Costa Rica as a hideaway? Well, there certainly are many expats in Costa Rica who are hiding from something. Hopefully, in your case, it’s simply from the rat-race up north and not from creditors, your ex, or the law.

Everyone knows that Costa Rica is the perfect “getaway.” But, is it also the perfect “hideaway.”?

Article/Property ID Number 5903

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