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Franklin Divorce Attorney > Blog > Divorce > Does Intention Affect Jurisdiction in a Divorce Case?

Does Intention Affect Jurisdiction in a Divorce Case?


The divorce case of Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner continues to make headlines, and continues to offer the opportunity to discuss various principles of family law.

This week, the two celebrity’s nationalities are again of pivotal importance: Ms. Turner is a British Actress, Mr. Jonas a musician from the U.S. Because her marriage will no longer be tying Ms. Turner to the U.S. it would come as no surprise if the Actress had a desire to return to Europe.

Where things get complicated – as is so often the case with divorce – is with the custody case. It is a constitutional right for an adult to be able to move away, if they have the desire and means to do so. However, one does not have a constitutional right to unequivocally move one’s children away from their other parent.

This week Ms. Turner’s legal team submitted a letter to the court which purports to show that Mr. Jonas and Ms. Turner had every intention of moving to England and raising their children there. Even if this were true – would it affect which court should hear their case? Does intention shift jurisdiction?

This article aims to discuss some basic concepts surrounding when a court has gained jurisdiction – or the ability to rule over – a given matter.


If a court has “jurisdiction” over a matter it means that they have an interest in the case, and the power and authority to process and make decisions in the case. Every state has developed its own set of rules that determine how jurisdiction is established.  The core ideal behind the legal concept is an attempt to ensure that parties are processing cases and claims in a place that is right and fair for the parties. Imagine if a divorcing couple who had lived in Tennessee the entirety of their marriage was suddenly forum shopping in several different states, or even different countries, trying to have their case heard in either a forum that they thought favored them, or whose location made essentially impossible for the other party to meaningfully participate.

Intentions and Jurisdiction

Unfortunately for many couples, their intention does not equal jurisdiction. Establishing jurisdiction is a process of looking at what has already happened. It is not determined by what a person or couple planned to do or expressed a desire to do.

Tennessee Jurisdiction Standards

In Tennessee, specifically, one of the tenets required to establish jurisdiction in a Tennessee court is that you must have lived in Tennessee for the six months previous to the divorce filing. Tennessee also holds what is called a “long-arm” statute, which establishes that if both individuals in a divorce case were residents of Tennessee and then one of them moves out of state, Tennessee can still retain their jurisdiction over the case.

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to remember that there are many shifting pieces. It is wise to consult an experienced divorce attorney so you can discuss your options, strategically plan, and understand what variables might play a big role in the unfolding of your divorce journey. It is possible for a divorcing couple to have multiple courts that could claim jurisdiction over the case. In such cases it is important to understand where you would want the case to be filed. If you foresee a divorce down the road and want your divorce to be heard in a certain court, speak to a legal expert on what you may be able to do to ensure the court of your choice will have jurisdiction when you file.

Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers

The variables in every divorce make the process unpredictable, it can be difficult to understand what is coming, and to know how to best prepare. Contact the esteemed Franklin divorce attorneys at Fort, Holloway & Rogers. Our expert legal staff can help you understand the nuances of your case, and help ensure that you navigate through your divorce journey to the best possible conclusion.




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