Your Florida Family Law Resource


One of the most important questions is where you can file your divorce or other family law case.

In most cases, a court must have subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction to grant any relief.

Roughly speaking, subject matter jurisdiction is the Court's ability to hear the type of matter.

Personal jurisdiciton is the Court's ability to enter an order or judgment affecting a specific person.

The rules below provide a limited overview of jurisdictional issues in Florida family cases.  If you have questions regarding jurisdiction, you may need to contact a florida family law attorney.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction:

In a divorce case, for a Florida court to have subject matter jurisdiction over the dissolution of marriage, at least one of the parties must have been a resident of Florida for at least six months prior to filing and that party must have the intent to remain in the state.  The party, however, does not necessarily need to be present in Florida for the entire six months, so long as the person remained a resident of the state.  Signficantly, residency is judged at the time of filing, so a party may move after filing the petition.  For members of the military and their spouses, the six-month minimum residency requirement does not apply, so long as the member is a resident of Florida at the time of filing.

In a divorce case involving children, for a Florida court to have subject matter jurisdiction over any child custory determination, the child must have been living in Florida for the six months immediately before the petition was filed.

In a domestic violence case, there is no minimum residency requirement.  For a Florida court to have subject matter jurisdiction, however, the petition for temporary injunction must be filed in one of the following locations:
(a) where the petitioner currently or temporarily resides;
(b) where the respondent resides; or
(c) where the violence occurred. 

Personal Jurisdiction:

In a divorce case, safasd.  Even without personal jurisdiction, however, a court may dissolve a marriage so long as it does not enter an order otherwise affecting a party's rights or obligations.

What if Jurisdiction is Proper in Two Different States?

In a divorce case where two different states have both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, Florida courts will usually defer to the foreign court if that court has already exercised jurisdiction over the parties.  In such cases, the Florida court will usually stay or dismiss the subsequent Florida action.

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