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Jurisdiction in Divorce/Dissolution and Family Law

Jurisdiction involves where a particular type of case may be heard. This is particularly important in military cases where Parties may be in different states or countries. Some jurisdictional requirements originate in state law, and others involving interstate matters may also be governed by federal law. For example, a divorce/dissolution proceeding may involve property division, spousal maintenance, and matters involving children to include allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time, and child support. Sometimes when Parties are in different states and depending on the contacts that one Party has had with a state, it may not be possible to have all issues decided in one court unless both parties consent to the jurisdiction of that court.

There are two types of jurisdiction: personal and subject matter. Personal jurisdiction relates to whether a court has jurisdiction over a person, and subject matter jurisdiction involves whether a court has jurisdiction over the type of legal matter. Courts are specialized and for the most part only hear particular types of cases. For example, a federal tax court would not hear state family law matters. In an action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, the Petitioner consents to jurisdiction by virtue of filing the Petition. Additionally, at least one party to the action must have been domiciled in Colorado for at least 91 days prior to filing.

Personal jurisdiction over the responding party in an action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation is obtained by service of a Petition and Summons. The responding party can also waive formal service. Generally, the initial filing documents must be served on the responding party by a person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action. That person prepares an Affidavit that states when and where they served the Party. If a Party can not be found for formal service, there are some methods of alternate service, however diligent attempts must be made before a court will consider alternate service. However, courts are more limited in authority to issue orders through alternative service.

There are special jurisdictional provisions when children are involved. Both state and federal law may govern legal matters involving children, particularly if the matter involves Parties living in two different states. Federal law governs interstate cases, though states may enact their own statutes based on the federal law. For example, the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act (UCCJEA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) govern interstate matters involving child custody/allocation of parental responsibilities.

Turning Change Into Opportunity in Colorado Springs

An attorney can guide you through Colorado Springs domestic relations matters by negotiating, mediating and litigating. This allows you to focus on moving forward to a better future rather than on spending your time trying to figure out the overly complex court system. Colorado Springs Divorce and family law matters are difficult to navigate alone. The court system is more complex than it should be. Change can be stressful, however it can lead to a better future. Janko Family Law helps ensure that your best interests are protected and that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations.

Contact us at 719-344-5523 or complete our online form to set up a free thirty-minute informational consultation.

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