Divorce jurisdiction when both parties have moved out of state

Question:divorce lawyer Ashley Hughes

I would like to file a motion to modify my alimony payments but I am not sure which court has jurisdiction.

We were divorced in one state (Maryland), but we both have since moved to different states (she’s in Michigan, I’m in Florida).

So which state has jurisdiction to pursue a modification?


Generally speaking, here are some considerations regarding jurisdictional questions.

Since your decree was entered in Maryland any modification can be entered in Maryland. However, a Foreign Decree should be able to be registered in any state and that state can modify the original order as if the order were its own, as long as the states have similar laws and procedures. That gets you subject matter jurisdiction.

However, in order for a court to actually modify the order, the court must have personal jurisdiction over the persons involved, i.e. the person must have in some way availed themselves to be adjudged by that court.

Here, it is likely that you could register the decree in Michigan, because your ex-wife is a resident of Michigan (and if you moved to register the decree there you are waiving any objection to lack of personal jurisdiction).

I am sure you are asking if you can register the decree (which is required before the court can modify, generally), in Florida. The answer is maybe. In order to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, the court has to determine if the party has the requisite minimum contacts within the state, which is going to be a factual question.

Consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction for specific legal advice as I have only provided you general information. Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide.

To schedule an appointment with Ashley A. Hughes, a Staff Attorney in the Colorado Springs, Colorado office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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