Picking Your Jurisdiction In Divorce Law Cases
Practicing in the Washington Metropolitan area gives us a unique opportunity on occasion to pick our jurisdiction. There are significant differences between the divorce laws in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. For example, in Maryland, the determination of what property is marital is based upon what was acquired from the date of the marriage through the date of the divorce. In Virginia, the determination of what property is marital is determined from the date of the marriage through the date of separation. Oftentimes, the parties do not obtain a divorce for two years or more after the separation.
If you represent a client who has acquired a significant property interest since the separation, or a property interest has increased in value substantially since the separation, you may want to choose Virginia as your jurisdiction. In order to establish jurisdiction, your client must be a resident and domiciliary of the state for six months. In appropriate circumstances, it might be very beneficial to have your client move to Virginia or whichever jurisdiction is most favorable in order to establish jurisdiction to take advantage of a more favorable law.