Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Miami Divorce

Before you file your Miami divorce case, you want to make sure a court has jurisdiction to enter a final judgment. Otherwise, you may spend a lot of time and money only to find at the end that all of it was for nothing because the court has no power to sign a final judgment. How do you know if the court has jurisdiction? 

Jurisdiction refers to the authority a court has to make decisions in your case. One requirement for the court to exercise jurisdiction over your Florida divorce is that one or both parties must have resided in Florida for at least six months immediately prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. As we see in the case McNeil v. Jenkins-McNeil, 5D17-3283 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018) it is not enough for a party to allege the residency requirement is met without appropriate corroborating evidence. 

In this case, the wife alleged in her petition for divorce that the husband had resided in Florida for the six months immediately preceding the filing of her petition. She did not make any allegations regarding her own residency. Therefore, at the final hearing, the wife had to prove the husband resided in Florida by having him produce a driver's license that showed it was issued within the relevant time period. Otherwise, she needed to have a witness appear who could himself verify his Florida residency during the relevant time period and could testify of his own knowledge that the husband was a Florida resident during the required time period. Alternatively, she could even have a witness file an affidavit swearing of his own knowledge that the husband was a Florida resident as required. 

The husband did not appear at the trial and the wife did not provide any of the evidence mentioned above. Nonetheless, the trial court entered a final judgment which was reversed on appeal. The appellate court held that because the wife did not present the required residency evidence, the trial court had no jurisdiction to enter the final judgment. 

Making sure your case is off to the right start may involve consulting with a Miami divorce lawyer. Contact one today to schedule your consultation.