Subject matter jurisdiction refers to a Court’s authority to hear a particular case. It can be raised as a defense by any party at any time. In divorce cases, a party must typically be a bona fide resident of the state for six months or more preceding the filing of the action for a Court to have subject matter jurisdiction. A person domiciled in the state is considered a bona fide resident. Domicile refers not just a physical presence, but an intent to remain permanently.

What does and does not constitute domicile is often very fact-specific. A college student, who spends a semester or two out of state, may not be a domiciliary of that state if they intend to return to their original state. Factors to consider when evaluating domicile are things such as whether the person has bank accounts, driver’s licenses, and or voter registrations in a particular state. Do they have a lease or a permanent home in the state? Finally, it is important to consider the purpose of being in that state, is it for a special occasion or a limited purpose or is it for a more permanent purpose?