Team Photo

Personal Jurisdiction

In order for a San Diego court to order a party to pay child support or spousal support, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the paying party.  Without personal jurisdiction, a court order for a party to pay support is not binding and is therefore unenforceable. A divorce attorney can establish personal jurisdiction by showing one of the following: (1) domicile in California, (2) a voluntary appearance in California, or (3) minimum contacts.

(1) Domicile in California:

In order for a Del Mar divorce lawyer or a party to establish domicile in a state, it must be proven that the person in question resides in that state with a concurrent intent to remain there indefinitely.  The “intent to remain” requirement is analyzed by the court considering a number of factors including but not limited to: home ownership in the state; bank accounts in the state; receipt of mail in the state; filing taxes in the state; belonging to local churches; clubs or political organizations; registering to vote in the state; car registration and a state driver’s license; and business affiliations with the state. When domicile is disputed in a case in Del Mar and other , “actions speak louder than words”.  Therefore, if a party has satisfied a sufficient number of the above factors, a divorce lawyer will ask the court to determine he or she is domiciled within the state and should be subject to personal jurisdiction there.

Read more about domicile and divorce

(2) Voluntary Appearance in California:

If a respondent is personally served with the Petition for Dissolution while he or she is physically present in the California, a California state court will have personal jurisdiction over the respondent. In one seminal California case, Husband lived in New Jersey and Wife lived in California with the children.  While Husband was visiting California on business and to visit the children, Wife asked her divorce attorney to serve Husband with the Petition for Dissolution.  Husband contested California’s ability to exercise personal jurisdiction and the court determined that physical presence in the state when served was sufficient to satisfy Husband’s due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Learn common terms used during a divorce

(3) Minimum Contacts:

A party’s “minimum contacts” with California which are related to the divorce proceeding may be a sufficient basis for California to exercise personal jurisdiction over the party. First, the court must find “purposeful availment”. Purposeful availment means an act by the spouse which purposefully availed him or her to the privilege of conducting activities in California. Divorce lawyers are aware that California has determined that accepting benefits of a California court-appointed settlement administrator constituted purposeful availment.  Second, the court must find “nexus”. Nexus is a sufficient relationship between the spouse and California such that it is reasonable and fair to require him or her to litigate in California.  The requirements of minimum contacts are much broader and up for interpretation than those for voluntary appearance or domicile, and can be an issue that needs to be addressed in divorce in Del Mar.

As divorce attorneys in Del Mar are well aware, when parties live in different states, jurisdiction can be a complicated issue that must be addressed at the onset of the case. Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only divorce lawyer in San Diego representing clients, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don't settle for less when determining your rights. Contact us at 858-793-8884 for more information about setting a consultation appointment.