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Home > Subject Matter Jurisdiction: What is it and Why is it Relevant in a Divorce Case?

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: What is it and Why is it Relevant in a Divorce Case?

By Patrick J. Boyer, Esquire-

subject matter jurisdiction Free photo 1104204 © Steve Holsderfield - Dreamstime.com

Subject matter jurisdiction refers to a Court’s authority to hear a particular case. It can be raised as a defense by any party at any time. In divorce cases, a party must typically be a bona fide resident of the state for six months or more preceding the filing of the action for a Court to have subject matter jurisdiction. A person domiciled in the state is considered a bona fide resident. Domicile refers not just a physical presence, but an intent to remain permanently.

What does and does not constitute domicile is often very fact-specific.  A college student, who spends a semester or two out of state, may not be a domiciliary of that state if they intend to return to their original state.  Factors to consider when evaluating domicile are things such as whether the person has bank accounts, driver’s licenses, and or voter registrations in a particular state. Do they have a lease or a permanent home in the state? Finally, it is important to consider the purpose of being in that state, is it for a special occasion or a limited purpose or is it for a more permanent purpose?

If you have questions regarding which state you should file a divorce action in, you should contact one of our attorneys.


Patrick J. Boyer, Family Law Attorney

Patrick J. Boyer concentrates his practice on family law. He advocates in various areas including, but not limited to, divorce, property division, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support, and domestic violence.

In addition, Patrick assists his clients with issues involving guardianship and third-party visitation. He is licensed in Delaware and Pennsylvania and works out of the firm’s Centreville, Delaware office.

If you have a family law matter or are considering divorce, contact Patrick J. Boyer at (302) 654-7294 or [email protected].