Jurisdiction may seem like a fairly dry legal term, but when jurisdiction is an issue in your divorce case, it suddenly becomes very interesting.
Basically, jurisdiction has to do with which court has the power to hear your case and issue a verdict. There are two types of jurisdiction: territorial jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. Family law court generally has subject matter jurisdiction over a divorce. The question then becomes, which state’s family law court should preside over the divorce?
This is an easy question to answer when both spouses live in Minnesota, but can become tricky when one of them has moved away. If one of the spouses can show that he or she has established a domicile in another state, the new state may have jurisdiction. That means that the proceedings will take place in State B, under that state’s laws.
Family law is mostly a state law matter, and different states have different laws. Your state’s laws may be more in your favor on questions of property division, child support and alimony. In addition, it can be quite inconvenient to have to go out of state to handle your divorce.
Some divorce decrees can be challenged on jurisdictional grounds. For example, the former wife of ex-NBA star Rasheed Wallace is trying to overturn a court’s decision in North Carolina, where Wallace filed for divorce in 2014. She filed for divorce in Michigan, where she lives, and where she says the divorce should have been decided.
The ex-wife is challenging Wallace’s claim that he has established residency in North Carolina, where he is building a home. She says he has been living in an apartment in Michigan since September 2013.
Determining jurisdiction can be tricky. If jurisdiction is at issue in your divorce, your attorney will examine the law and the facts to determine where the proceedings may take place.