Tag Archives: jurisdiction

Why is my Court Hearing Somewhere Else?

Mississippi has 20 Chancery Court Districts and 49 Chancery Court Judges, but Mississippi has 82 counties.  Most Chancery Court Districts, therefore, include more than one county.

You file your case in your home county’s Chancery Clerk’s Office, most often.  This is the appropriate “jurisdiction.” One District has a first and second judicial district, being Hinds County.  Most districts, however, include more than one County.  In that instance you still file in your home county, but you may well see the judge, have Court, and otherwise be in another County for your case.

I have been asked and have heard litigants try to use this as an advantage.  Perhaps not having to testify at home, making witnesses have to drive, or having Court somewhere else will lead to a better result. It doesn’t.  It is the same Judge, the same facts and in most instance just 30-45 minutes this way or that way from the other Courthouse.

One thing to remember when having litigation in multiple counties is to be mindful where the Court file is.  It is the lawyer’s job to see that the Court file makes it to Court.  I have seen time and again someone forget the Court file and the Judge be unwilling to take action until it can be retrieved or recessed until another day when it can be obtained.

I was involved in a 10th District case, commonly thought of as Hattiesburg, but had actual Court hearings in 5 different counties throughout the pendency of the case.  In no particular order, we had a trial and motion hearings in 1) Forrest County, Hattiesburg; 2) Lamar County, Purvis; 3) Marion County; Columbia, a temporary hearing in 4) Pearl River County, Poplarville, and a motion for New Trial in 5) Perry County, New Augusta.  Each hearing had the same judge, attorneys and parties, but were in so many different places because that is where the Judge was the days we had court appearances.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney, with a statewide practice, and recommends you hire a lawyer either in the area of where your case is or a lawyer who practices in that area.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

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Jurisdiction; Where to Sue.

Jurisdiction is one of those legal terms we hear a lot, but aren’t always sure what it means.  In the legal world, for a Court to be able to act upon a  filed complaint and grant relief to a party, the Court must have jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction provides the Court authority to makes decisions over a party and the topic of their lawsuit.

Mississippi law provides rules for determining if a Court has jurisdiction and where that may be.  MCA § 93-5-5, contains the residency requirements for a divorce  action.  Additionally, all actions for divorce will be filed in the Chancery Court for the appropriate county.

The jurisdiction of the chancery court in suits for divorce shall be confined to the following cases:

(a) Where one (1) of the parties has been an actual bonafide resident within this state for six (6) months next preceding the commencement of the suit. If a member of the armed services of the United States is stationed in the state and residing within the state with his spouse, such person and his spouse shall be considered actual bonafide residents of the state for the purposes of this section, provided they were residing within the state at the time of the separation of the parties.

(b) In any case where the proof shows that a residence was acquired in this state with a purpose of securing a divorce, the court shall not take jurisdiction thereof, but dismiss the bill at the cost of complainant.

In plain terms, this means you file your divorce action in your home county, or the County that you have resided in for at least 6 months, immediately filing the action.  If you were married in another stated and meet the Mississippi residency requirements you file in Mississippi.  If were married on the Coast, but live in Jackson and have for over 6 months you file in Jackson.  Sometimes, if you wish to file in your current area, but have not met the residency requirements you may have to wait.  Sometimes there are disputes as to residency and the parties can litigate where the case should be litigated.  Some states have different residency requirements than Mississippi so don’t bank on the 6 months if you are in another state.

There are also a number of exceptions or tweaks to the jurisdictional rules.  Another Court, or State, could have “emergency jurisdiction” in child custody cases pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. (UCCJEA).  Also, if your divorce was originally in another state or another county, that original Court would have original jurisdiction and there are additional rules to “transfer” jurisdiction and in some instance you cannot move it.  Military family law cases also have exceptions to the traditional jurisdiction rules.

Jurisdiction is a critical aspect to consider when filing.  It is imperative that your case be filed in the right place geographically and the right Court.  You also may have options between differing Courts based on what is at issue in your case.  Talk to your lawyer about where your case should be filed.

Matthew is a family law attorney and native Mississippian.  Follow his blog, here, at http://www.BowTieLawyer.wp.com.

You may also contact Matthew with your family law or jurisdictional question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@wmtlawfirm.com.