Full Faith and Credit Doctrine


Full faith and credit doctrine refers to the recognition, acceptance, and enforcement of the laws, orders and judgments of another jurisdiction.  Specifically, it is the recognition of another state’s legal decisions by a state.

Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, focuses on the duties that states of the United States have to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of other states.

The section says that full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. It also says that the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.  Full faith and credit laws generally apply only to civil judgments.

Full Faith and Credit Clause is invoked mainly to enforce judgments. When a valid judgment is rendered by a court that has jurisdiction over the parties, and the parties receive proper notice of the action and a reasonable opportunity to be heard, the full faith and credit clause requires that the judgment receive the same effect in other states as in the state where it is entered.  A party who obtains a judgment in one state may petition the court in another state to enforce the judgment.  When this is done, the parties do not relitigate the issues, and the court in the second state is obliged to fully recognize and honor the judgment of the first court in determining the enforceability of the judgment and the procedure for its execution.