Full Faith and Credit

By Lia Kopin-Green
/
April 20, 2022

What is Full Faith and Credit?

The full faith and credit clause is a section of the US constitution that requires all states’ rulings, records, and judgments to be acknowledged and enforced in all other states. Essentially, every court in the US must grant “full faith” and “credit” to the decisions reached by other states. This clause helps prevent legal conflicts between different states and maintains a sense of uniformity in the US legal system. It also helps the court system save time by avoiding additional legal processes on matters that have already been settled elsewhere.

In custody law, full faith and credit refer to the requirement of every state to enforce any custody determinations made by a court in another state.

Key Takeaways

  • Full faith and credit are defined as the legal obligation of other states to honor the court rulings and judgments from another state.
  • This principle prevents conflict, maintains harmony, and saves time in the US legal system.
  • Full faith and credit is enforced in marriage and divorce, custody matters, restraining orders, and criminal convictions.

Full Faith and Credit in Custody Law

When it comes to family law, every state is required to apply child custody or visitation arrangements that were determined in a different state, making custody orders universal by principle. For example, if an Illinois court decided to grant sole custody to one parent, that parent will maintain full custody even if they decide to relocate to New York.

To qualify under the full faith and credit clause in custody law, the custody or visitation decision needs to be made in the child’s “home state,” or where the child has lived for at least six consecutive months. 

Exceptions to the Full Faith and Credit Clause

Although full faith and credit remains prevalent in matters of custody and restraining orders, there are a few exceptions to the clause. The full faith and credit clause may not be applied if it violates the state’s public policy in that matter. For instance, California acknowledges the benefit to the general public in allowing transgender individuals to change their gender on their drivers license. However, New Mexico does not acknowledge this public benefit and these changes are not allowed according to state law. Therefore, in this case, New Mexico is not required to apply the full faith and credit clause. As a result, transgender individuals will not be able to change their genders on their drivers licenses in New Mexico.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, full faith and credit is an important constitutional clause that aims for unity within US federal law. It is typically recognized in cases of custody law, allowing for custody arrangements in one state to carry onto another state without any need for re-litigation. Dealing with constitutional laws such as the full faith and credit clause can be complicated, so you may want to look into hiring a government or family lawyer. An experienced attorney should be able to help with these issues, including modifying laws that were enforced by the full faith and credit clause.

Sources

https://www.findlaw.com/family/child-custody/interstate-full-faith-and-credit-custody-law.html

https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/what-is-the-full-faith-and-credit-clause.html

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