New York ex rel. Halvey v. Halvey
330 U.S. 610 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York ex rel. Halvey v. Halvey, 330 U.S. 610 (1947)

New York ex rel. Halvey v. Halvey

No. 384

Argued February 5, 1947

Decided March 31, 1947

330 U.S. 610

Syllabus

After a man and wife had been married in New York, had a child born there, and had lived there seven years, the wife took the child to Florida without the husband's consent and established a residence there. The next year, she instituted suit for divorce in Florida. Service of process on the husband was had by publication, and he made no appearance. The Florida court granted the wife a divorce and awarded her permanent care, custody, and control of the child, but, the day before the decree was granted, the husband took the child to New York without the knowledge or approval of the wife. The wife instituted habeas corpus proceedings in New York, challenging the legality of the detention of the child. The New York court ordered (1) that the custody of the child remain with the mother, (2) that the father have rights of visitation, including the right to keep the child with him during stated vacation periods each year, and (3) that the mother give a surety bond conditioned on the delivery of the child in Florida for removal by the father to New York for the period when he was entitled to keep it with him.

Held: the order of the New York court did not fail to give the Florida decree the full faith and credit required by Article IV, § 1 of the Constitution. Pp. 330 U. S. 612-616.

(a) Under Florida law, custody decrees of Florida courts ordinarily are not res judicata in Florida or elsewhere, except as to facts before the court at the time of judgment. Pp. 330 U. S. 612-613.

(b) The Florida court would have been empowered to modify the decree in the interests of the child and to grant the father the right of visitation, had he applied to it, rather than the New York court, and presented his version of the controversy for the first time in his application for modification of the Florida decree. Pp. 330 U. S. 613-614.

(c) So far as the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution is concerned, what Florida can do in modifying the decree, New York also may do. Pp. 330 U. S. 614-615.

295 N.Y. 836, 66 N.E.2d 851, affirmed.

Page 330 U. S. 611

A Florida court having granted a divorce and awarded custody of a child to a mother, and the child having been removed to New York by the father without the mother's consent, the mother instituted habeas corpus proceedings in New York. The New York court ordered( 1) that the custody of the child remain with the mother, (2) that the father have rights of visitation, including the right to keep the child with him during stated vacation periods each year, and (3) that the mother give a surety bond conditioned on delivery of the child in Florida for removal by the father to New York for the periods when he was entitled to keep it with him. 185 Misc. 52, 55 N.Y.S.2d 761. Both the Appellate Division, 269 App.Div. 1019, 59 N.Y.S.2d 396, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, 295 N.Y. 836, 66 N.E.2d 851. This Court granted certiorari. 329 U.S. 697. Affirmed, p. 330 U. S. 616.

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