Travis Vincent Perez, Jr. v. Donna Sue Ellis Tanner

Annotate this Case
Travis Vincent PEREZ, Jr. v. 
Donna Sue Ellis TANNER

97-668                                             ___ S.W.2d ___

                    Supreme Court of Arkansas
                Opinion delivered March 19, 1998


1.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- governing acts. --
     Jurisdiction over child-custody disputes is governed by two
     acts, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA), Ark.
     Code Ann.  9-13-201 to -223 (Repl. 1993), and the federally
     preemptive Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980 (PKPA),
     28 U.S.C.  1738A (1994); issues of child visitation are
     considered under the definition of "custody determination"
     found in the PKPA and the UCCJA; the PKPA applies directly to
     modification proceedings; however, the PKPA also indirectly
     governs initial custody determinations because it does not
     accord a custody decree full faith and credit in another state
     if the decree failed to conform to the requirements of the
     PKPA.

2.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- UCCJA -- purposes. -- The
     purposes stated in the Arkansas UCCJA include avoiding
     jurisdictional conflicts with other state courts and avoiding
     the relitigation of custody decisions made in other states.

3.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- no two states shall exercise
     concurrent or simultaneous jurisdiction. -- Before a state may
     exercise jurisdiction in a custody or visitation dispute, it
     must determine whether a sister state is exercising
     jurisdiction; under the PKPA, if a state finds that another
     action is pending, the state must look to 28 U.S.C. 
     1738A(g), which provides that a state shall not exercise
     jurisdiction in a custody proceeding that is commenced while
     a proceeding is pending in a sister state that is exercising
     jurisdiction consistent with the PKPA; this provision means
     that no two states shall exercise concurrent or simultaneous
     jurisdiction.

4.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- modification of sister state's
     order. -- The PKPA provides that a court may modify a custody
     order of a sister state only if two criteria are met: first,
     the court must determine that it has jurisdiction to make
     child-custody determinations; secondly, the sister state's
     court must no longer have jurisdiction or must have declined
     to exercise jurisdiction to modify the order; if the sister
     state still has jurisdiction under the laws of that state, and
     the state remains the residence of one of the parties or the
     child, then the sister state retains continuing jurisdiction
     and the other court shall not modify the order.

5.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Under Mississippi's UCCJA,
     a Mississippi chancery court may exercise jurisdiction when
     Mississippi is the home state of the child at the time of
     commencement of the proceeding; additionally, the PKPA gives
     priority to home-state jurisdiction in initial custody
     determinations; where, at the time of commencement of the
     initial proceeding, Mississippi had been the residence of both
     children since their birth, the supreme court held that
     Mississippi properly exercised its home-state jurisdiction
     under both the UCCJA and the PKPA in entering the initial
     custody order. 

6.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Mississippi court did not decline
     to exercise jurisdiction. -- The supreme court concluded that the
     Mississippi court did not decline to exercise jurisdiction and
     that appellee never made a motion to the Mississippi court
     requesting that it decline jurisdiction in favor of a more
     appropriate or convenient forum, even though Mississippi law
     provided for such a request; instead, the Mississippi court
     was continuing to exercise jurisdiction under subsection (d)
     of the PKPA.

7.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- PKPA criteria. -- Subsection
     (d) of the PKPA provides that the jurisdiction of the court of
     the state that "has made a child custody determination
     consistently with the provisions of this section continues as
     long as the requirement of subsection (c)(1) of this section
     continues to be met and such State remains the residence ...
     of any contestant"; subsection (c)(1) of the PKPA requires
     that the court must have "jurisdiction under the laws of such
     State."  

8.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Mississippi court had
     jurisdiction under Mississippi law -- PKPA requirements met. -- Where the
     Mississippi court entered the initial custody order in
     compliance with its UCCJA, as the home state of the children;
     where the Mississippi court retained jurisdiction under its
     UCCJA to modify its decree if the state was the children's
     home state at the commencement of the proceeding and "a parent
     or person acting as parent" continued to live in the state;
     and where, because appellant continued as a resident of
     Mississippi, the Mississippi court had jurisdiction under
     Mississippi law, the supreme court concluded that the
     requirements of subsection (c)(1) of the PKPA, as well as
     subsection (d), had been met.

9.   Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- modification of decree -- PKPA
     gives preference to state with continuing jurisdiction. -- Where the
     issue is which state has jurisdiction to modify a custody
     decree, the PKPA gives preference to the state with continuing
     jurisdiction.

10.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Arkansas court did not have
     authority under PKPA to modify Mississippi court's order -- reversed and
     dismissed. -- Because the Mississippi court still had continuing
     jurisdiction as the decree state and had not declined to
     exercise it, the Arkansas court did not have jurisdiction
     under the PKPA to modify the Mississippi court's custody
     order; the PKPA required that the Arkansas court give the
     Mississippi court's order full faith and credit; the supreme
     court reversed and dismissed.

11.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- exercise in emergency situation.
     -- Both the UCCJA and the PKPA contain language providing that
     a foreign court may exercise jurisdiction in an emergency
     situation; the requirements for exercising emergency
     jurisdiction are the physical presence of the child in the
     state and the existence of a genuine emergency, such as
     abandonment or neglect; this jurisdictional basis is available
     only in extraordinary or extreme situations where the
     immediate health and welfare of the child is threatened.

12.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- emergency powers limited. --
     Courts' emergency powers are limited under both the UCCJA and
     the PKPA; emergency jurisdiction may only be used to enter a
     temporary order to give a party sufficient time to travel with
     the child to the proper forum to present her allegations of
     abuse and seek a permanent modification of custody.

13.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- appellee's forum shopping
     contravened purposes of UCCJA and PKPA. -- Where there was no
     evidence supporting a finding that the health or welfare of
     the child was in immediate danger, the supreme court concluded
     that appellee was merely shopping for a forum that would
     completely deny appellant's visitation rights; after trying a
     Mississippi court and an Alabama court, she finally found an
     Arkansas court that would grant her requested relief; such
     forum shopping directly contravenes the express purposes of
     the UCCJA and PKPA.

14.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Arkansas court erred in
     exercising emergency jurisdiction. -- Where the Arkansas court's
     actions in modifying the original Mississippi decree went
     beyond the reach of emergency jurisdiction under either the
     PKPA or UCCJA, the supreme court concluded that the Arkansas
     court erred in exercising emergency jurisdiction.

15.  Courts -- foreign court order -- Arkansas court obligated to determine
     jurisdiction and validity under foreign state's law. -- The Arkansas
     court was obligated to determine whether the foreign court had
     jurisdiction, as well as testing the validity and effect of
     the foreign court's order, under the foreign state's law
     rather than under Arkansas law; in enforcing the foreign
     court's judgment, a finding that the foreign court erred in
     interpreting its own law or statutes or failed to apply the
     proper state law would still not be grounds for refusing to
     recognize the judgment.

16.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- PKPA enacted to make full faith
     and credit requirements apply to child-custody proceedings. -- The United
     States Congress clearly intended for the PKPA to extend full
     faith and credit to custody and visitation decrees entered in
     conformity with the UCCJA; the United States Supreme Court has
     determined that Congress enacted the PKPA to make the
     requirements of full faith and credit apply to child-custody
     proceedings; further, Congress physically positioned the PKPA
     as an addendum to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, 28 U.S.C.
      1738, which demonstrated that Congress intended for the Act
     to have the same operative effect as the Full Faith and Credit
     Clause.

17.  Parent & child -- custody jurisdiction -- Arkansas court erred in refusing
     to recognize Mississippi orders under Full Faith and Credit Clause. --
     Under the PKPA, courts will accord full faith and credit to
     the custody determinations of a sister state that had
     jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter; where
     the supreme court determined that the Arkansas court lacked
     jurisdiction and therefore was required to give full faith and
     credit to the Mississippi orders under the PKPA, the court
     also concluded that the Arkansas court erred in refusing to
     recognize the Mississippi orders under the Full Faith and
     Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. 


     Appeal from Lonoke Chancery Court; Phillip T. Whitaker,
Chancellor; reversed and dismissed.
     Rice, Adams & Pace, P.A., by: Ben E. Rice, for appellant.
     Kelly & Huckabee, by: Sandy Huckabee, for appellee.

     Ray Thornton, Justice.
                     Ray Thornton, Justice.

     This case involves a jurisdictional dispute between
conflicting decrees of Arkansas and Mississippi courts in a child-
custody matter.  Travis Vincent Perez and Donna Sue Ellis Tanner
lived together in Mississippi for approximately five years.  During
this time, Mrs. Tanner gave birth to a daughter, C.P., and a son,
T.V., in 1989 and 1990 respectively.  Although both parties
acknowledge Mr. Perez as the biological father of these children,
the parties have never been married to one another and no court has
issued an order establishing paternity.
     The initial pleadings relating to custody of the minor
children were filed in the Jackson County, Mississippi, Chancery
Court on January 16, 1992.  At various times, each party has been
awarded custody in the context of approximately sixteen different
Mississippi court orders.  As the Mississippi court exercised
continuing jurisdiction over custody and visitation proceedings
under the provisions of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of
1980 (PKPA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA),
we reverse and dismiss.
     In November 1995, allegations surfaced that Mr. Perez's
brother had sexually abused C.P.  An Alabama hospital examination
on November 10 revealed no evidence of abuse; however, in a
November 14 examination, Dr. John Shriner, an Alabama pediatrician,
found evidence of abuse.  Consequently, on December 21, the
Mississippi court ordered Mr. Perez's visitation restricted to his
sister's home in Mississippi and ordered Mr. Perez's brother to not
have any contact with C.P.  On March 13, 1996, Mr. Perez's brother
appeared before a grand jury in Mississippi that returned a
decision not to indict him on charges of child molestation.
     A hearing was scheduled in Mississippi for March 6, but two
weeks before that date, Mrs. Tanner, who had custody of the
children pursuant to a previous Mississippi court order, moved to
Arkansas.  On March 4, 1996, two days before the hearing scheduled
in Mississippi, Mrs. Tanner petitioned the Lonoke County, Arkansas,
Chancery Court to suspend Mr. Perez's visitation in an ex parte
proceeding.  The Arkansas court granted Mrs. Tanner's petition on
that same date.
     A hearing was held in Mississippi on March 6, and Mrs. Tanner
did not appear.  In its May 9 order, the Mississippi court issued
a temporary order finding Mrs. Tanner in contempt for failing to
appear and for violating its order in refusing to honor Mr. Perez's
visitation rights.  The Mississippi court found that it had
continuing jurisdiction over the matter, awarded Mr. Perez
temporary custody of both children, and directed that Mr. Perez's
brother have no contact with the children until a full evidentiary
hearing could be held.  The court made this temporary order a
permanent one in an order filed June 29, 1996.  No appeal was taken
from this Mississippi order.
     In an April 1996 letter, Mr. Perez advised the Arkansas court
that Mrs. Tanner had requested similar modifications in two other
states.  He further claimed that an Alabama court declined
jurisdiction in January 1996, on the basis that the Mississippi
court retained jurisdiction.
     On July 9, 1996, Mr. Perez filed a motion in the Arkansas
court challenging its exercise of jurisdiction in this case and
asking the court to give full faith and credit to the rulings of
the Mississippi court giving him custody of the children.  In her
reply, Mrs. Tanner urged that Mr. Perez had submitted to the
Arkansas court's jurisdiction by requesting that the court award
him visitation.  She also counterpetitioned, requesting that the
Arkansas court find Mr. Perez in contempt for failure to pay child
support as ordered by the Mississippi court.
     The Arkansas court heard testimony on the issue on August 22,
1996.  In its September 17 order, the Arkansas court decided to
maintain jurisdiction until home studies could be conducted on both
parties and allowed Mr. Perez to have visitation in the office of
the children's counselor and via telephone.  The home studies were
filed with the court and indicated that both parents could provide
a suitable home.
     On February 25, 1997, the Arkansas chancery court issued a
ruling stating that the court accepted and retained jurisdiction in
this matter under Ark. Code Ann. section 9-13-203(a)(3) (Repl.
1993), the emergency-jurisdiction provision of the UCCJA.  The
court noted that the Mississippi court orders granted "paramount
custody, care and control" of the children to Mrs. Tanner from the
time the older child entered first grade, which she did in the
1995-96 school year.  The Arkansas court awarded full custody to
Mrs. Tanner.
     The Arkansas court also refused to extend full faith and
credit to the Mississippi orders because it found that Mr. Perez
was a "stranger" to the children under Arkansas law.  The court
refused to recognize the validity of the Mississippi court's
orders.  The Arkansas court reasoned that giving visitation and/or
custody to a putative father whose paternity has not been
established in accordance with the requirements of our Code
violated Arkansas law, notwithstanding that the paternity
determination complied with Mississippi law.  The court also
refused to hold Mr. Perez in contempt for nonpayment of child
support on the basis that Arkansas law does not provide for an
award of support against a putative father until after a judicial
decree establishes paternity.
     Mr. Perez filed a motion in the Arkansas court for a new trial
on March 6, 1997, which the court denied.  Mr. Perez appeals this
order of the Lonoke County Chancery Court.  Mr. Perez raises four
points on appeal.  Because our analysis of the first and third
points is similar, we address those points together.  
     In points one and three, Mr. Perez argues that the Full Faith
and Credit Clause, the PKPA, and Arkansas's UCCJA require the
Arkansas chancery court to give full faith and credit to the
Mississippi chancery court's orders.  We agree.
     Jurisdiction over child-custody disputes is governed by two
acts, the UCCJA, Ark. Code Ann.  9-13-201 to -223 (Repl. 1993),
and the federally preemptive PKPA, 28 U.S.C.  1738A (1994). 
Issues of child visitation are considered under the definition of
"custody determination."  28 U.S.C.  1738A(b)(3); Ark. Code Ann.
 9-13-202(2).  The PKPA applies directly to modification
proceedings; however, it also indirectly governs initial custody
determinations.  Atkins v. Atkins, 308 Ark. 1, 823 S.W.2d 816
(1992).  We have stated that this is due to the fact that the PKPA
does not accord a custody decree full faith and credit in another
state if the decree failed to conform to the requirements of the
PKPA.  Id.
     The purposes stated in our UCCJA include avoiding
jurisdictional conflicts with other state courts and avoiding the
relitigation of custody decisions made in other states.  Ark. Code
Ann.  9-13-201.  We have previously looked to the Florida appeals
court for guidance and quoted the following with respect to the
purposes of the UCCJA:  "Those purposes are not served when a
court, with knowledge that the subject matter of child custody is
pending in another state, totally ignores the foreign proceeding
and exercises jurisdiction over a child, who has been in the state
for less than a month, for the purpose of making a permanent
award."  Norsworthy v. Norsworthy, 289 Ark. 479, 486, 713 S.W.2d 451, 455 (1986) (quoting Bonis v. Bonis, 420 So. 2d 104 (Fla. Dist.
Ct. App. 1982)).
     Based on these principles of law, we first consider whether
the Arkansas court properly took jurisdiction in this case under
the PKPA and UCCJA.  Before a state may exercise jurisdiction in a
custody or visitation dispute, it must determine whether a sister
state is exercising jurisdiction.  Under the PKPA, if a state finds
that another action is pending, the state must look to subsection
(g).  Subsection (g) provides that a state shall not exercise
jurisdiction in a custody proceeding that is commenced while a
proceeding is pending in a sister state, which is exercising
jurisdiction consistent with the PKPA.  28 U.S.C.  1738A(g).  This
provision means that no two states shall exercise concurrent or
simultaneous jurisdiction.
     With regard to modifying custody orders, the PKPA provides
that a court may modify a custody order of a sister state only if
two criteria are met.  First, the court must determine that it has
jurisdiction to make child-custody determinations.  28 U.S.C. 
1738A(f)(1).  Second, the court of the sister state must no longer
have jurisdiction or must have declined to exercise jurisdiction to
modify the order.  28 U.S.C.  1738A(f)(2).  If the sister state
still has jurisdiction under the laws of that state and the state
remains the residence of one of the parties or the child, then the
sister state retains continuing jurisdiction and the other court
shall not modify the order.  28 U.S.C.  1738A(d).
     Turning to the second criterion, we look at whether the sister
state had proper jurisdiction to enter the initial decree. 
Mississippi has adopted a version of the UCCJA, Miss. Code Ann. 
93-23-1 to 93-23-47 (Supp. 1993).  Under its UCCJA, the Mississippi
chancery court may exercise jurisdiction where Mississippi is the
"home state of the child at the time of commencement of the
proceeding."  Miss. Code Ann.  93-23-5(1)(a).  Additionally, the
PKPA gives priority to home-state jurisdiction in initial custody
determinations.  Garrett v. Garrett, 292 Ark. 584, 732 S.W.2d 127
(1987); see also 1 Jeff Atkinson, Modern Child Custody Practice 
3.01, at 106.  In this case, when the initial proceeding was
commenced in 1992, Mississippi had been the residence of both
children since their birth.  Therefore, Mississippi properly
exercised its home-state jurisdiction under both the UCCJA and the
PKPA in entering the initial custody order.
     Having decided that the Mississippi court had original
jurisdiction in this dispute, we next determine whether the
Mississippi court had declined to exercise jurisdiction or no
longer had jurisdiction.  See 28 U.S.C.  1738A(f).  Under the
Mississippi Code, the Mississippi court could have declined to
exercise jurisdiction to modify its own order if it had found that
Mississippi was an inconvenient forum and that the court of another
state was more convenient.  Miss. Code Ann.  93-23-13(1).  The
Mississippi court may make this determination upon its own motion,
or upon motion of one of the parties or of the child.  Miss. Code
Ann.  93-23-13(2).
     In this case, the Mississippi court did not decline to
exercise jurisdiction.  Furthermore, it does not appear that Mrs.
Tanner ever made a motion to the Mississippi court requesting that
it decline jurisdiction in favor of a more appropriate or
convenient forum, even though Mississippi law provides for such a
request.  Instead, the Mississippi court was continuing to exercise
jurisdiction under subsection (d) of the PKPA.
     Subsection (d) of the Act provides that the jurisdiction of
the court of the state that "has made a child custody determination
consistently with the provisions of this section continues as long
as the requirement of subsection (c)(1) of this section continues
to be met and such State remains the residence . . . of any
contestant."  28 U.S.C.  1738A(d).  Subsection (c)(1) of the PKPA
requires that the court must have "jurisdiction under the laws of
such State."  As discussed above, the Mississippi court entered the
initial custody order in compliance with its UCCJA, as the home
state of the children.  The Mississippi court retains jurisdiction
under its UCCJA to modify its decree if the state was the
children's home state at the commencement of the proceeding and "a
parent or person acting as parent continues to live within this
state."  Miss. Code Ann.  93-23-5(1)(a).  Since Mr. Perez
continues as a resident of Mississippi, the Mississippi court has
jurisdiction under Mississippi law.  Therefore, we conclude that
the requirements of subsection (c)(1) of the PKPA, as well as
subsection (d), have been met.
     When the issue is which state has jurisdiction to modify a
custody decree, the PKPA gives preference to the state with
continuing jurisdiction.  Richardson v. Moore, 332 Ark. ___, ___
S.W.2d ___ (March 12, 1998) (citing Murphy v. Danforth, 323 Ark.
482, 915 S.W.2d 697 (1996)).  Because the Mississippi court still
had continuing jurisdiction as the decree state and had not
declined to exercise it, the Arkansas court did not have
jurisdiction under the PKPA to modify the Mississippi court's
order.  The PKPA requires that the Arkansas court give the
Mississippi court's order full faith and credit.  We conclude that
the Arkansas court had no jurisdictional basis under which to enter
the modifications, and we reverse and dismiss.
     We note that much of this jurisdictional confusion might have
been avoided had the Arkansas court complied with the UCCJA's
directive to communicate with the Mississippi court.  See
Norsworthy v. Norsworthy, 289 Ark. 479, 713 S.W.2d 451 (1986)
(citing Ark. Code Ann.  9-13-207(d) in reaching the conclusion
that it was incumbent on the Arkansas court under the UCCJA to
enter into some form of direct communication with the foreign court
to ascertain which forum was the better one in which to decide
custody); Mellinger v. Mellinger, 26 Ark. App. 233, 764 S.W.2d 52
(1989).  The Arkansas court clearly had knowledge as early in the
case as April 16, 1996, that another proceeding was pending in
Mississippi because it granted Mrs. Tanner's request for a
protective order directing her not to leave Arkansas to appear at
the April 17 hearing in Mississippi.
     Mrs. Tanner argues that it was necessary for the Arkansas
court to assume jurisdiction in this proceeding because an
emergency existed in which the child's welfare was in danger.  We
disagree.
     The UCCJA and the PKPA both contain language providing that a
foreign court may exercise jurisdiction in an emergency situation. 
Ark. Code Ann.  9-13-203(a)(3); 28 U.S.C.  1738A(c)(2)(C).  The
requirements for exercising emergency jurisdiction are the physical
presence of the child in the state and the existence of a genuine
emergency, such as abandonment or neglect.  Id.; Murphy v.
Danforth, 323 Ark. at 491, 915 S.W.2d  at 702.  This jurisdictional
basis is available only in extraordinary or extreme situations
where the immediate health and welfare of the child is threatened. 
Caskey v. Pickett, 274 Ark. 383, 625 S.W.2d 473 (1981).
     Courts' emergency powers are limited under both acts.  Murphy,
323 Ark. at 491, 915 S.W.2d  at 702.  Emergency jurisdiction may
only be used to enter a temporary order to give a party sufficient
time to travel with the child to the proper forum to present her
allegations of abuse and seek a permanent modification of custody. 
Id.
     In the present case, when Mrs. Tanner filed with the Arkansas
court, she had custody of both children under the order of the
Mississippi court.  The Mississippi court had restricted Mr.
Perez's visitation with the children to his sister's house.  Mrs.
Tanner presented us with no evidence that the daughter was in any
danger from Mr. Perez's brother.  If Mrs. Tanner felt that her
daughter was in danger because Mr. Perez was not complying with the
order, she could have sought temporary relief from an Arkansas
court.  However, she could only seek temporary relief for the
purpose of giving her adequate time to petition for permanent
relief from the Mississippi court because Mississippi was the only
jurisdiction at that time with authority under the PKPA to
permanently modify the order.
     Because there was no evidence supporting a finding that the
health or welfare of the child was in immediate danger, we conclude
that Mrs. Tanner was merely shopping for a forum that would
completely deny Mr. Perez's visitation rights.  After trying a
Mississippi court and an Alabama court, she finally found an
Arkansas court that would grant her requested relief.  Such forum
shopping directly contravenes the express purposes of the UCCJA and
PKPA.
     The Arkansas court's actions in modifying the original
Mississippi decree went beyond the reach of emergency jurisdiction
under either the PKPA or UCCJA.  We conclude that the Arkansas
court erred in exercising emergency jurisdiction under these
circumstances.
     For his second point, Mr. Perez claims that the Arkansas court
erred in refusing to accord the Mississippi court's orders full
faith and credit.  The Arkansas court refused to recognize the
Mississippi orders, reasoning that the Mississippi orders should
not be accorded full faith and credit because they awarded custody,
visitation, and support absent a judicial determination of
paternity, which the court found to contravene Arkansas law.
     The Arkansas court was obligated to determine whether the
foreign court had jurisdiction, as well as testing the validity and
effect of the foreign court's order, under the law of the foreign
state, not Arkansas law.  See Hinchee v. Golden Oak Bank, 540 So. 2d 262 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1989).  In enforcing the Mississippi
court's judgment, a finding that the Mississippi court erred in
interpreting its own law or statutes or failed to apply the proper
state law would still not be grounds for refusing to recognize the
judgment.  Fauntleroy v. Lum, 210 U.S. 230, 237 (1908); see also 1
Restatement of Confl. of Laws 2d  106 (1969); Corliss v. Corliss, 89
N.M. 235, 549 P.2d 1070 (1976) (looking to Missouri law to
determine whether to modify alimony and child support awarded in
Missouri divorce decree).  Of course, if the order was entered by
a court that was wholly without jurisdiction or if the order was
procured by fraud, the Arkansas court need not recognize the
judgment because the order would be void in the rendering state
itself and not entitled to full faith and credit.  Id.; see also
Kricfalusi v. Brokers Securities, Inc., 305 Ark. 228, 806 S.W.2d 622 (1991).
     The United States Congress clearly intended for the PKPA to
extend full faith and credit to custody and visitation decrees
entered in conformity with the UCCJA.  In Thompson v. Thompson, 484 U.S. 174 (1988), the Supreme Court determined that Congress enacted
the PKPA to make the requirements of full faith and credit apply to
child-custody proceedings.  See also Roger M. Baron, Federal
Preemption in the Resolution of Child Custody Jurisdiction
Disputes, 45 Ark. L. Rev. 885 (1993).  Additionally, Congress
physically positioned the PKPA as an addendum to the Full Faith and
Credit Clause, 28 U.S.C.  1738, which demonstrates that Congress
intended for the Act to have the same operative effect as the Full
Faith and Credit Clause.  Thompson, 484 U.S.  at 183.
     The United States Constitution directs that "Full Faith and
Credit shall be given in each State to the [judicial proceedings]
. . . of every other State."  U.S. Const. art. IV,  1; see also 28
U.S.C.  1738 (1994).  Under the PKPA, our courts will accord full
faith and credit to the custody determinations of a sister state
that had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.  28
U.S.C.  1738A.  Since we determined above that the Arkansas court
lacked jurisdiction and was therefore required to give full faith
and credit to the Mississippi orders under the PKPA, we likewise
conclude that the Arkansas court erred in refusing to recognize the
Mississippi orders under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the
United States Constitution.
     For his fourth assignment of error, Mr. Perez asserts that the
Arkansas court erred in assuming jurisdiction because Mississippi
was the most convenient forum to determine the child-custody
dispute.  
     The UCCJA and PKPA do not require a court that properly has
jurisdiction to decline jurisdiction in favor of the most
convenient forum.  As touched on above, our UCCJA, as well as
Mississippi's UCCJA, contains a provision allowing a court to
decline to exercise jurisdiction where the court determines that
another forum is more appropriate for any of several reasons.  See
Ark. Code Ann.  9-13-207; Miss. Code Ann.  93-23-13; see also
Blocker v. Blocker, 57 Ark. App. 218, 944 S.W.2d 552 (1997). 
However, the Arkansas court was not in the position to consider
whether the Mississippi court was a more appropriate forum because
the PKPA preempted any claim to jurisdiction that the Arkansas
court might have possessed in favor of the continuing jurisdiction
of the Mississippi court.  Because we have determined that the
Arkansas court was without jurisdiction, we need not reach this
issue.
     Reversed and dismissed.