What is Jurisdiction in a Court of Law?

One of the first things the court must do in order to commence any action, is to establish jurisdiction. Jurisdiction grants the court the authority to commence an action, such as divorce.

In order to initiate a divorce, at least one of the petitioning parties must be a resident of the state in which they choose to petition for divorce, for a minimum of six months. Further, at least one party must be a resident of the county in which the divorce proceedings are to be initiated for a minimum of 30 days upon commencement of the court actions.
By doing this, the court is solidifying that it does indeed have jurisdiction over the matter. This jurisdiction grants the court the authority to commence an action, but it also allows for the statutes and legislation of that county to govern the process. Different counties and states have different statutes and laws which govern their respective regions. These laws may conflict with the laws of another state. Therefore, jurisdiction must be established in order to normalize the proceedings.

As far as child custody actions, more jurisdictional requirements must be met. The Uniform Child Custody and Enforcement Act govern this process and the subsequent requirements. Each party involved with the custody proceeding must further file an affidavit which states the address where the child/children is currently living, where the child or children have lived over the past five years, and who the child/children lived with during these times, and is living with currently.

This information can be submitted during the initial proceeding. If this information is not on file, the parties are required to file the affidavit before moving forward.
As far as personal jurisdiction is concerned, personal jurisdiction is established if the respondent is present or lives within the state at the time that they are served. It is also established when the respondent lived in the state with during their marriage for a minimum of six months during the preceding six years. In addition, it can be established if the respondent makes a general appearance and does not raise the question or concern of personal jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction for marital status questions only, means there is not sufficient jurisdiction in the establishment of child custody, and/or the child or children's physical placement, or for any financial matters with the exception of property if it is located within the state. Under § 801.05, the court does not need to have grounds for personal jurisdiction.
In all cases, the respondent has to be served in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Feel free to contact us if you have anymore questions.


References: Jurisdiction


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