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The Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 (PKPA) establishes national standards to determine jurisdiction in interstate custody disputes. PKPA does not impose a duty on the states to exercise jurisdiction over any child custody issues, but when a state wishes to exercise jurisdiction over a determination entered by a court of a sister state, the PKPA governs which states can exercise jurisdiction and when. If the state custody statute conflicts with PKPA, the federal statute controls. 

Courts need to comply with the jurisdictional provisions under PKPA when giving the decrees from sister states full faith and credit. For example, in Williams v. Williams, the Supreme Court of North Carolina held that an original Indiana custody decree was not entitled to full faith and credit in North Carolina, because the court could not have exercised jurisdiction to determine custody of one child who had never lived outside of North Carolina, or custody of another child without determining that it had subject matter jurisdiction.

See also: child custodythe Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJA).

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]