A husband domiciled in Wisconsin obtained a divorce decree in Wisconsin from his non-resident, absent wife, and an order awarding him the custody of the children. He filed for habeas corpus in Ohio to obtain the children after the wife violated the decree. The wife contended that Ohio should deny full faith and credit because Wisconsin had no personal jurisdiction over her. The husband reasoned that his domicile plus that of the children was a sufficient jurisdictional basis to enable Wisconsin, also the marital domicile, to bind all parties interested in their custody. At the time of the decree, although the children were admittedly domiciled in Wisconsin, they were temporarily with their mother in Ohio on the understanding that they would be returned to their father in Wisconsin if the mother remained in Ohio. Held: the ex parte decree fixing custody of children was not entitled to full faith and credit, in the absence of personal jurisdiction over the mother.
Prior to this decision, state courts had disagreed as to whether full faith and credit should be extended to a custody decree where jurisdiction was based on domicile of the child alone; the weight of authority and the Restatement supporting the dissenting view in the principal case. As a result of this and prior United States Supreme Court cases, the following conclusion may be drawn: if a spouse secures divorce, alimony, and custody decrees in a state where the plaintiff and children are domiciled, the defendant being domiciled elsewhere and the children absent from the forum, the only decree entitled to full faith and credit is the one terminating the marital status of husband and wife.
John P. Pfann,
Recent Cases: Domestic Relations — Full Faith and Credit — Effect of Decree Granting Custody of Children,
33 Neb. L. Rev. 100
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