On March 7, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling in the case of V. L. v. E. L., et al. This case, reviewed from an Alabama Supreme Court decision, addressed the issue of whether one state must give full faith and credit to an adoption judgment from another state.
V.L. and E.L., two women who were in a relationship over 15 years, petitioned and were granted by a Georgia court to allow V.L. to adopt E.L.’s three children as a second parent. This allowed both women to be recognized as legal parents. When the parties ended their relationship in 2011, V.L. petitioned an Alabama court for custody or visitation rights based upon the Georgia adoption judgment.
Both the Alabama Trial Court and Appeals Court recognized the Georgia adoption judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court, however, ruled that it was not required to recognize the Georgia adoption judgment. It based this ruling on the determination that Georgia had erred in applying its own law, and as such, had no jurisdiction to issue the adoption judgment.
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously that Alabama had to recognize and give full faith and credit to the Georgia adoption judgment. The Court found that Georgia did have jurisdiction and stated that “[a] State may not disregard the judgment of a sister State because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits.”
To read the full decision see http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-648_d18e.pdf