Where Can I Get Divorced?

In order for any court to hear any case, that court must have jurisdiction over both the parties and the subject matter of that case. Virginia, like many states, has a special jurisdictional requirement for divorces. In order for a Virginia Court to have jurisdiction over a divorce, the Plaintiff must prove that at least one of the “parties was at the time of the filing of the suit and [has] been for at least six months preceding the filing of the suit [for divorce] an actual bona fide resident and domiciliary” of Virginia. Virginia Code § 20-97.

This is often a fairly straightforward concept—if you live in Virginia at the time of filing for divorce and have done so for the previous six months, the Court will likely be able to hear your case. However, that is not always true.

A Virginia Circuit Court recently had the opportunity to further interpret the meaning of the term “bona fide resident” within the above statute in Lango v. Lango, Case No. CL-2019-13066, Oct. 22, 2020, Fairfax County Cir. Ct. (Oblon). In that case, both parties were Kenyan citizens but were living in Virginia for the Husband’s job. Both Husband and Wife had G-4 visas, which are a specific type of non-immigrant visas issued to foreign employees of certain international organizations. Despite living in Virginia for nearly a decade before their separation, the Court found that neither party was a “bona fide resident” of Virginia within the meaning of the statute. The Court found that a G-4 visa is “inconsistent with intent to become a permanent, bona fide resident and domiciliary of Virginia.” Both of the parties’ claims for divorce were dismissed.

As evidenced by the above case, it is important to ensure that you are filing for divorce in the proper jurisdiction so as to not spend unnecessary time and money litigating a case that the Court cannot ultimately hear.

If you have questions about divorce and need assistance from someone with intimate knowledge Virginia family law, please do not hesitate to contact our firm at 804-423-1382 or info@wmmlegal.com to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced Virginia attorneys.


SOURCE: https://valawyersweekly.com/2020/11/13/no-jurisdiction-to-grant-divorce/