The Appellate Court reversed all four findings of dismissal.
- The Appellate Court found that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the divorce pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-8 as Wife was a bona fide resident of New Jersey (finding that she was a “domiciliary” of New Jersey because of her intent to remain in New Jersey indefinitely, notwithstanding her Husband living in Singapore).
- When analyzing personal jurisdiction, the Appellate Court looked to Husband’s connections to New Jersey and whether it was fair (in a constitutional sense) for the Husband to be made to litigate in New Jersey. The Appellate Court found that Husband had sufficient significant and continuous contacts with New Jersey to require him to litigate in our courts. Specifically, the Court noted that Husband had entered New Jersey voluntarily, had resided here for 13 months with his family (indeed, it was the last place the parties resided together as married couple), opened bank accounts in New Jersey, purchased a car in New Jersey, obtained a New Jersey drivers license, and as noted above, visited his Wife and daughters in New Jersey for approximately three years.
- The Appellate Court also found Husband’s argument that Australia was the correct forum (a forum that was an eight hour flight away for him and a twenty-one hour flight away for wife) unpersuasive, noting that Australia was inconvenient for both parties and that there is a strong presumption in favor of the choice made by a resident who chooses a home forum (i.e., resident Wife initiating the action in New Jersey). Moreover, the Court found that the Husband had substantial resources and frequently traveled to the United States, therefore did not show that it would be a hardship for him to travel to New Jersey to litigate this matter.
- Finally, despite Wife having failed to comply with the requirement that a process server serving a non resident defendant outside of the United States must first be approved by the Court, the Court did not find any reason why Husband suffered any prejudice from same and reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the Complaint of this ground.
Lauren E. Koster is an associate in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Family Law Practice Group. Lauren practices in the firm’s Princeton, New Jersey office and can be reached at (609) 844-3027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.