Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

Jurisdictional Concerns for Florida Divorce


Like all other states, Florida has jurisdictional requirements that must be met for there to be a dissolution of marriage. Under the jurisdiction umbrella, there are three jurisdictional steps that one must meet in order for their dissolution of marriage case to proceed in the State of Florida: subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and venue.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction is the requirement that a given court have power to head the specific kind of claim that is brought to that court, and it cannot be waived by either party. In proceedings for dissolutions of marriage, one of the parties must have resided in the State of Florida for at least six (6) months before the filing of the petition. The term “reside” means that you must have a legal residence in Florida, not a temporary residence.

As long as at least one of the parties to the dissolution meet this residency requirement, a Florida court has subject matter jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings. If the party filing the petition is seeking alimony, division of property, or child support, the court must also have personal jurisdiction over the other party.

Personal Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction is the power that a court has to make a decision regarding a party. Whether a court has personal jurisdiction over an individual in a particular case depends on that person’s past, present, and ongoing contacts with the State of Florida.

As previously stated, the Florida courts must have personal jurisdiction over the non-filing party if they are seeking alimony, division of property, or child support even though the court does not need to have personal jurisdiction over them to simply grant a divorce.

In a divorce proceeding, a court in Florida has personal jurisdiction over a party if they maintained a matrimonial domicile, marital residence, in Florida at the time the divorce action began or if they resided in the State of Florida before the divorce action began. Unlike subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction can be waived.


Venue is a geographical issue that concerns whether a case has been filed in the proper court within the State of Florida. For a divorce case, the proper venue is either in the county where the parties last resided as a married couple or in the county in which the non-filing party resides.

We are a group of four skilled family lawyers who each have a different area of expertise. We offer committed and effective legal services to Floridians from our location in the Boca Raton region. We are here to support you through this trying time. Call (561) 276-3880 to schedule a free consultation.