How is jurisdiction determined in a divorce?

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How is jurisdiction determined in a divorce?

My husband and I live in different counties about 300 miles apart. A lawyer told me if my husband files first and I am the defendant, I can have the case moved to the city I currently reside in. However if I file first my husband can have the case moved to his city. Is this correct?

Asked on September 30, 2011 under Family Law, Nevada

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, jurisdiction over the person (personal jurisdiction) is determined in these matters for the person filing the divorce petition (the plaintiff) by the place that they live.  The state has a certain time requirement and generally so does a county.  The court obtains jurisdiction over the person who is being sued (the defendant) by the service of the divorce papers on them by the plaintiff under the procedural law in your state.  Now, courts can allow a person to apply to move a case to another jurisdiction but it has to be based on concrete reasons and that varies on the type of case and the facts involved.  For example, if in a divorce action there are children that reside with the defendant the Court may transfer as the county in which the children reside has priority and authority to make custody and visitation determinations.  But courts do not let the parties constantly fight over where the proceedings are to be filed so absent some other more pressing factor the general rule is first in time; first in right: first one to properly file gets to keep the case in their jurisdiction.  You need to speak with that attorney again and ask why they said that.  Good luck.


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