Jurisdiction and Power of a Court to give you a Divorce

Divorce is not the same in every state and is certainly not the same in foreign countries.

So what happens if you are divorcing a spouse who lives in another state or country?  The law is very tricky here.  Also what happens if you have some property in one state and some property in another state.

Here are the rules of law that control these problems.  States can only control assets locating

However, New York permits a court to distribute property located in this state after the issuance of a divorce  in another. In a recent court decision involving property in another country the court delt with thi unique factual scenario as follows.

In the case of THA v. MAA, No. 161488/2015, dec. order (N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty., Jan. 18, 2017) there was fraud in that one party concealed their property from the other.  In the above case, the wife said the husband stole and converted ot his own use art from the wife.  In a case like that, the court can remedy this for a spouse if they find out about it by giving unequal distribution of property to the aggrieved spouse. 

Also, there are two prongs that must be met in distribution of property out of state.  In order to bring an action in New York you must have in personal jurisdiction over your spouse and jurisdiction over the property at issue.  This is known as in personam jurisdiction and in rem jurisdiction.

For example, a New York Court might have personal jurisdiction over both spouses if they live in NY but if the property is outside NY they would lack power to adjudicate the property out of state unless the parties consented to it.

However, as mentioned above, under DRL 236(B), if you have a divorce judgment from another state that affects NY property then the NY court can distribute it between the parties.  In the above cited case the NYC court dismissed the wife’s case, saying that it was premature since another divorce case was pending in another country.

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