This article focuses on Title II, Safe Homes for Women, specifically, interstate enforcement of protection orders. Prior to the enactment of VAWA, the majority of states did not afford full faith and credit to protection orders issued in sister states! This was a serious breach in the protection afforded victims of domestic violence. Without full faith and credit statutes, a state only has the power to protect victims of domestic violence within its boundaries, limiting the protection afforded to victims if they are forced to move or flee to another state.
Prior to the VAWA, in order to receive protection in the foreign state, a victim had to petition the foreign state's court for a new protection order. Because of due process requirements, the batterer had to be served with notice regarding pending protection proceedings, thus revealing the victim's whereabouts and putting the victim in a dangerous situation. In the absence of a full faith and credit statute, jurisdictional problems could arise. A state may not have jurisdiction to issue a new protection order unless abuse takes place within its boundaries. In addition, there are other problems that arise out of the requirement of refiling for a protection order including: additional filing fees; language barriers; the difference in each state's domestic violence laws regarding availability, duration, and scope of protection; inadequate transportation; access to legal assistance; and child care facilities.
This article examines existing procedures for enforcing interstate protection orders in states that have full faith and credit statutes. It then proposes methods by which practitioners can utilize the VAWA under their state's existing systems and explores model approaches to implementing the VAWA by looking at the roles that practitioners, courts, and law enforcement officials should play. Finally, this article will address the issues of mutual protection orders and the creation of a new federal crime under the VAWA.
Catherine F. Klein, Full Faith and Credit: Interstate Enforcement of Protection Orders Under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, 29 FAM. L. Q. 253 (1995).