To enter a decree of dissolution of marriage, Colorado district courts need proper subject matter jurisdiction. To enter an order for maintenance, child support, or division of marital property, the court needs personal jurisdiction. Here are the keys to gaining both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
A court gains subject matter jurisdiction through a domicile requirement and a waiting period provision. In order to satisfy the domicile requirement, at least one party has to be domiciled in the state of Colorado for at least 90 days prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. Domicile is simply the present intent that Colorado remains the one party’s permanent residence. This does not require the party physically being in the state of Colorado, but rather just the intent that Colorado remains his or her permanent residence.
The waiting period requires that before a decree of dissolution of marriage is entered, at least 90 days need to have passed since the court acquired personal jurisdiction over the respondent.
Personal jurisdiction is required for a court to enter an order regarding maintenance, child support or division of property. One simple way to gain personal jurisdiction over a party is to simply serve that party in the state of Colorado. This is the most common way personal jurisdiction is gained. Another way to gain personal jurisdiction is through the other party’s acts. The other party can waive service, file for relief in the action or enter an appearance in the actions. These are all sufficient ways to gaining personal jurisdiction.
In rare cases where service was not gained through the ways listed above the are methods to serve the other party out of state if the other party has voluntary submitted to the jurisdiction of Colorado, or in more extreme cases if actual personal service cannot be gained, through publication. These methods are rarely used.
What is important to remember, though, is personal jurisdiction is required by a court to enter orders regarding maintenance, child custody or division of marital property.