Does the Court have jurisdiction over my divorce? In a divorce case, there are two types of jurisdiction, “in rem” and “in personam.” A Court’s “in rem” jurisdiction refers to its authority to enter a decree of divorce. In Delaware and Pennsylvania, at least one spouse must have been a bona fide resident of the state for the six months preceding the filing. A Court can grant a divorce decree regardless of whether it has “in personam” jurisdiction.
The authority to divide marital property, award alimony, and enter other financial relief ancillary to divorce refers to a Court’s “in personam” jurisdiction. To have “in personam” jurisdiction, the responding spouse, if a non-resident, must have sufficient “minimum contacts” with the forum state. This generally involves whether and to what degree the non-resident spouse has ties to the forum state, such as, whether they conduct business in the state, whether they obtain any benefit from the forum state, and whether it would be fair to bring them into Court in that state. A party objecting to a Court’s “in personam” jurisdiction must raise this objection in their first filing with the Court, or the objection may be waived. Similarly, if the non-resident spouse is personally served within the forum state, the objection is also waived.
If you have a question related to divorce jurisdiction, please contact Patrick Boyer at 302-654-4454 or [email protected].