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Jurisdiction

In Florida, the court will not have jurisdiction (legal authority) to enter a dissolution of marriage or divorce until at least one of the two parties has been a resident of Florida for six months. This means that if a couple moves here and decides that the marriage is over, they will have to delay filing their petition until after they have been here six months. This is a factual question and a false residency affidavit will invalidate any court order entered in reliance upon it.

If only one party has been here for six months the court will have subject matter jurisdiction and can enter an order dissolving the marriage and making both parties single. But the court will only have power over the person filing, the children if they have been with the parent who is filing and any property titled in Florida or located in Florida.

The court will not have jurisdiction to deal with children residing out of state and will not have the power to order an out of state spouse to do anything unless personal jurisdiction can be obtained. That requires both service of process, proof of substantial contacts with the state of Florida or a voluntary submission the court's jurisdiction. Unless the out of state party has significant contacts with Florida or voluntarily submits to the Florida Court's jurisdiction, the court cannot order him or her to do anything.

If the parties have not yet lived in Florida for six months and there is a problem with a failure support a spouse or to support a child, there are statutes that allow the court to order spousal support and child support without addressing the dissolution of the marriage or the division of assets and debts. (See my blog on division of assets and debts).

Jurisdictional issues are very complicated and if one parent or spouse is out of state, or the parties may have not lived here for six months, a lawyer should be contacted to determine the best way to seek relief from the courts. If you need my help, go to my web site at www.peppler law.com or call my office for a consult.

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