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KOVACS V. BREWER, 356 U. S. 604 (1958)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kovacs v. Brewer, 356 U.S. 604 (1958)

Kovacs v. Brewer

No. 200

Argued April 3, 1958

Decided May 26, 1958

356 U.S. 604


In 1951, a New York court granted petitioner's husband a divorce and awarded custody of their five-year-old daughter to her paternal grandfather, who removed the child to North Carolina, where she has since resided. In a proceeding in 1954, the New York court modified its decree and granted custody to the mother. Fourteen months later, the mother sued in North Carolina for custody of the child, presenting a certified copy of the New York decree and claiming that it was entitled to "full faith and credit" in North Carolina, "except as to matters showing changed circumstances since the date of such decree." The North Carolina trial court found that the welfare of the child demanded that she remain in her grandfather's custody, and held that it was not bound to give effect to the New York decree. The Supreme Court of North Carolina sustained the trial court, declaring, apparently as an alternative ground of decision, that the New York decree was not binding because the divorce court had no jurisdiction to modify its original custody award after the child had become a resident and domiciliary of North Carolina.

Held: the case is remanded to the North Carolina Supreme Court for clarification of its holding, so that the courts of that State may have an opportunity to determine the issue of changed circumstances if they have not already done so. Pp. 356 U. S. 604-608.

245 N.C. 630, 97 S.E.2d 96, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

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