Personal Jurisdiction in Florida Divorce Cases

While you are involved in a family law case, you will probably hear the term “personal jurisdiction” thrown around by either lawyers or judges. This “Legalese” term is often quite confusing when one party to a family law case resides outside of Florida. A case cannot proceed through the court system unless the court has personal jurisdiction over the parties of the case, meaning that the court has the ability to enter and enforce orders that concern the people and property of the people involved. This does not mean that both parties to a family law action have to live in Florida, but there are some strict requirements.

One of the main requirements is that one of the parties (and the children, if there are any) must have lived in Florida for six months before initiating court proceedings in a family law matter. If both parties live in the State of Florida, meeting this requirement is almost automatic. However, personal jurisdiction can become complicated if one party lives outside of Florida, and questions like, “Where did the marriage last exist?”, “When is the last time the other person lived in Florida?”, “Does the other person have any property in Florida?” can become relevant. While it is possible for a court to obtain personal jurisdiction over persons living outside of Florida, the extent of the jurisdiction depends on the specific facts of your case. If you are considering initiating divorce proceedings in Florida against someone who resides outside of Florida, consider consulting with a family law attorney to determine whether you can meet the requirement of personal jurisdiction prior to filing.