Personal Jurisdiction to Adjudicate Divorce Proceedings – New Case Law

On April 24, 2012, the Supreme Court of Georgia decided Ennis v. Ennis, holding that while minimum contacts over a nonresident party are necessary to adjudicate issues related to a marriage (i.e. alimony, division of marital property, and attorneys’ fees), they are not required to dissolve the marriage alone.

The Court overturned the trial court’s ruling that Georgia had personal jurisdiction over nonresident Wife, noting that the minimum contacts requirements of the long arm statute (OCGA § 9-10-91(5)) had not been satisfied, and that Wife had not conducted any business nor did she have any recent, significant ties to the state.

However, the Court found that a Georgia court does not need personal jurisdiction over the nonresident Wife to simply grant the divorce. Pursuant to OCGA  § 19-5-2, resident Husband was entitled to dissolve the marriage in a Georgia court so long as he had lived in the state for at least six months. If the residency requirement is met, the Georgia trial court has jurisdiction to grant the divorce.