If you are considering consulting a lawyer about a divorce or custody action, you might come across the term jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is a term lawyers use on a regular basis that may not be familiar to a layperson.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines jurisdiction as “The power and authority constitutionally conferred upon (or constitutionally recognized as existing in) a court or judge to pronounce the sentence of the law, or to award the remedies provided by law, upon a state of facts, proved or admitted, referred to the tribunal for decision, and authorized by law to be the subject of investigation or action by that tribunal, and in favor of or against persons (or a res) who present themselves, or who are brought, before the court in some manner sanctioned by law as proper and sufficient.” Clear as mud?
In short, jurisdiction is what gives the Court authority to hear and decide your case. In a divorce, you want to ensure that the Court will have authority to do things like dissolve your marriage and divide your property. In a custody action, you want to ensure that the Court will have authority to do things like set a parenting time schedule or make a decision on school choice. There are different types of jurisdiction and an attorney can help you navigate potential jurisdictional issues.
Elizabeth M. Howell