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Jurisdiction

Posted on : September 14, 2011

In a divorce case, many people are under the misconception that if one party lives in Florida for at least six months then he/she can get divorced in Florida. While there is a six month residency requirement to become divorced in Florida, that only allows Florida to have subject matter jurisdiction of the case.  Florida also needs to have personal jurisdiction of both parties, which means that the opposing party must have some contact with the state of Florida.  While a party may still get a divorce in Florida, the Florida court does not have jurisdiction to equitably divide property or order child support without personal jurisdiction.  Jurisdiction is a very complicated issue and you should consult an experienced family law attorney for more information.

I’ve met with several people who have relocated to Florida and lived in Florida for six months just so they can get divorced in Florida, and they are always disappointed to find out that Florida lacks personal jurisdiction over the other party and therefore they aren’t entitled to the distribution of the assets and debts.

Jurisdiction regarding a paternity action is different.  A non-resident submits himself to the jurisdiction of the state of Florida by engaging in the act of sexual intercourse within the state of Florida with respect to which a child may have been conceived.  However in Paternity cases, jurisdiction is a difficult topic that must be discussed with an experienced paternity and family law attorney.

Like jurisdiction, venue is also a difficult subject.  Venue relates to which circuit in the state of Florida a cause of action should be brought, and venue depends on the type of case filed and the location of the parties.  Before filing a Florida divorce, paternity or any family law case, be sure to talk to an experienced Tampa divorce attorney to ensure that Florida has jurisdiction over both the subject matter of the case and personal jurisdiction of the other party of the case; and be sure to inquire of your attorney which venue would be appropriate in your case.

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