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Subject Matter Jurisdiction: An Essential Element To Your Broward Divorce

Before you decide to hire a divorce attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, it is essential that either you or your spouse has been a resident of Florida for 6 months before the filing of the petition. While marital and family lawyers in Broward refer to this as the “residency requirement”, the legal term is referred to as subject matter jurisdiction.

A court acquires subject matter jurisdiction over a lawsuit either by the constitution or a specific statute. A husband and wife cannot create subject matter jurisdiction by waiver, acquiescence or agreement. In a divorce case, Florida Statute 61.021, confers subject matter jurisdiction upon the court and requires that either the husband or wife must reside in Florida for 6 months before the filing of the divorce petition. This residency requirement is not only jurisdictional but must be proved in every case by the filing party either by a Florida drivers license, voter’s registration card or even an affidavit of a corroborating witness.

In Mikulec v Mikulec, the husband filed a petition for writ of prohibition and alleged that the divorce court did not have subject matter jurisdiction since he was not a resident of Florida for six months prior to the filing of the petition. While the trial court denied his motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the order did not contain any findings as to where the husband resided before the wife filed the divorce action. In grating the writ of certiorari, the Fourth District Court of Appeal remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to make a specific finding that the husband has been a resident of the State of Florida for six months prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.