Court Grants Wife’s Motion to Dismiss Divorce Action Where Parties Moved to Connecticut with Intention of Returning to California

Before filing for divorce in Connecticut, prospective litigants must satisfy certain statutory jurisdictional criteria.  This often becomes an issue where parties were married in Connecticut, but one spouse (or both) subsequently moved to another state.  As illustrated by a recent decision rendered in the Superior Court of Stamford, this type of situation could impact a court’s ability to hear the case.

In this particular matter, the parties were married in California and were the parents of two minor children.  A few years into the marriage, the husband accepted a two year position in Connecticut.  The wife, a tenured teacher in California, took a two year leave of absence and the parties move to Connecticut with their children.  Approximately two years into the relocation, the husband filed for divorce; however, the wife filed a motion to dismiss, claiming Connecticut did not have jurisdiction over the case.

Upon hearing evidence, the trial court found that the parties still owned investment property in California, that the parties’ bank accounts, driver’s licenses and deferred income plans were located in California, and that the wife specifically took a leave of absence because she intended to return to California following the husband’s two year commitment.  The court also found that by the time it heard the motions, the parties had actually begun the process of moving back to California.  In fact, the wife was once again employed in California and the children were attending school there.

From a legal standpoint, the court explained that “residence” in this state for purposes of establishing jurisdiction requires both domicile plus continuous physical residence.  Domicile, it explained, “implies a nexus between person and place of such permanence as to control the creation of legal relations and responsibilities of the utmost significance.”  Williams v. North Carolina, 325 U.S. 226 (1945).  According to the court, in order to obtain a divorce in Connecticut, one of the parties must be domiciled in Connecticut and must establish continuous physical residence in this state for a period of twelve months.  LaBow v. LaBow, 171 Conn. 433 (1976).  Based on its factual findings, the court determined that the parties never abandoned California as their domicile.  According to the court, their actions confirmed their intention to remain Californians and to eventually return there.

The matrimonial attorneys in the Westport, Connecticut office of Maya Murphy, P.C. have extensive experience handling divorce and custody matters, and assist clients from Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Westport, Fairfield, and more.  For more information, please feel free to contact managing partner Joseph Maya at (203) 221-3100, or by email at jmaya@mayalaw.com.