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What Is the Full Faith and Credit Custody Law?

Judith Trentman Wilson, Attorney at Law, P.C. March 3, 2020

After what seems like a never-ending battle, you and your former spouse finally agreed on a child custody arrangement. You follow it for years and, after some headache, you eventually get the shared parenting thing all figured out. Then your child’s custodial parent throws you for a loop: He or she tells you he or she is moving out of Illinois and plans to take your child with. Does this make your child custody agreement null and void?

Fortunately, FindLaw has some good news, and that is that child custody agreements are universal. This is entirely due to the existence of the “full faith and credit” child custody law.

The full faith and credit child custody law is a federal law designed to create consistency between state custody laws. This law requires every state court to enforce visitation and custody determinations made by a court in an out-of-state jurisdiction. For instance, if your former spouse moves your child to Michigan, the law requires Michigan authorities to enforce your Illinois agreement. This law encompasses initial and temporary orders, as well as modifications. It applies only to children under the age of 18.

The jurisdiction that governs the child custody arrangement is that of your child’s home state. The law considers the home state to be that in which your child lived with one or both parents for six uninterrupted months.

There may be a few instances in which the child’s home state cannot assume jurisdiction. If it appears that no other state has jurisdiction, if it would be in the child’s best interests to change jurisdictions or if a parent can provide substantial evidence that a child will receive future protection, care and training in another state, the law may allow the change of jurisdiction.