May 16, 2014. Let’s say you moved to Iowa and have the waited the year so you could file for divorce with proper subject matter jurisdiction. The next hurdle to think about is personal jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction means the state where you filed the action has the ability to make legal determinations over the individual person affecting their liberty interests. When you are talking about divorce, custody and visitation, these are major legal determinations. A state can only do that if you are a resident of that state or if you have “meaningful contacts” with that state. When a person has minimum contacts with a state, that person could expect to be subject to court in that state.
If you file for divorce and your spouse has never been to that state, you will likely have issues with personal jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction, unlike subject matter jurisdiction, can be waived. Discuss with your attorney the contacts your spouse has with your state. Your attorney will need to make a determination if there are sufficient contacts in which to file for divorce and proceed with the case.