Foreign Law Cannot Be Used in Florida State Court

Marco Rubio
Republican Hispanic Caucus members join U.S. Senator Marco Rubio at the rostrum after Rubio addressed the House GOP caucus on a visit to the capital city Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011.

Attorneys who practice in the area of civil litigation are responsible for a myriad of items. For example, an attorney representing a client in civil court must not only be familiar with the relevant state law that is the basis of the impending action, but they must also demonstrate a working knowledge of rules of evidence and civil procedure in order to properly represent their clients before the court. Laws and rules on procedure and evidence change at times, with some standards being amended more often than others. An experienced attorney in the area of civil litigation keeps informed of these changes, as they not only should, but are required to do.

Recent Court Ruling

One of the latest clarifications to procedural law came as the result of a decision made by Florida legislators. According to a recent news article, lawmakers in Florida voted to forbid the use of foreign law in their state courts. The proposed law acts to restrict both courts and arbitration tribunals from applying foreign law, legal codes, and other doctrines in divorce, custody, or child-support matters. If parties to these matters do seek to apply a foreign legal doctrine, presiding judges must ensure that both sides to the matter have the same rights granted by the state of Florida as well as the United State’s Constitutions.

While the ruling does not necessarily represent a significant change to Florida law, it is seen as an important decision relating to existing law. Many laws have changed in recent decades, and with those shifts in the law comes the additional need for reassurance that some laws will continue to exist in Florida courts. This is especially the case with the law enumerated here, dealing with the enforcement of foreign judgements and foreign law.


Opponents of the bill argued prior to its passing that it was unnecessary, saying no cases of foreign law attempting to be enforced in the state of Florida could be cited. They went on to say that the proposal was a cheap shot aimed at insulting those who practice the Muslim faith, perpetuating myths that Muslims are trying to use Koran teachings and laws of Muslim countries in court, where such pleas were supposedly rejected. The opponents called the measure a solution in search of a problem.

It is important to note that the bill applies only to the family law matters outlined above. It specifically does not apply to corporate contracts between businesses, ecclesiastical matters, issues where federal treaty would apply, or to international agreements in which federal law would pre-empt state law.

Florida Attorney

The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. have experience with civil litigation including family law matters like divorce and child custody. If you are considering divorce, or are involved with another civil matter, it is important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can listen to the facts of your particular case and advise you of your rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties.