While living in California, Patricia Vanderbilt (plaintiff) and Cornelius Vanderbilt (defendant) separated after four years of marriage. Thereafter, Patricia moved to New York. Cornelius filed a petition against Patricia for divorce in Nevada. The Nevada court issued a final divorce decree. However, Patricia was never served with process in Nevada, did not know about the divorce petition, and did not personally appear in the Nevada court. The following year, Patricia filed a petition for separation and alimony against Cornelius in New York. Although the New York court did not have personal jurisdiction over Cornelius, the court sequestered property owned by Cornelius within New York in order to satisfy his financial obligations to Patricia. Cornelius appeared at a subsequent hearing on Patricia’s petition and claimed that the Full Faith and Credit Clause compelled the New York court to enforce the Nevada divorce decree. The New York court agreed, concluding that the marriage had been dissolved, but nonetheless entered an order directing Cornelius to make designated alimony payments to Patricia. Cornelius appealed. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.