Plaintiff bank held a judgment against defendant Chang from the court in Hong Kong. Plaintiff then sought to enforce the Hong Kong judgment in the state of Washington, where the defendant resided with his wife. Crucially, the bank sought to enforce the judgment on the marital property, although Washington law prohibits such enforcement if the obligation was created prior to marriage.
The court found that if a spouse incurred a debt outside of the state, Washington law uses a conflict of laws analysis to determine the enforceability of the debt. The court found that the debt is more appropriately governed by Hong Kong law, and held that the bank may execute upon marital property pursuant to Hong Kong law.
Time again for this blog's pet favorite, transnational family law! Here we have a highly interesting situation. Conflict of laws rule usually appears when the court attempts to choose the law that would determine the merits of the case. Here, the court applies the conflict of laws rule on the execution stage of the case, after the merit phase is over.