In Rem and In Personam Jurisdiction

Court Jurisdiction in Maryland

Court Jurisdiction Over a Divorce

In rem jurisdiction means jurisdiction over the thing or subject matter jurisdiction.  The courts of Maryland have subject matter jurisdiction to decide the marital status of the residents of Maryland. Therefore they have in rem jurisdiction to grant a divorce.

To order the payment of money, such as alimony, child support, counsel fees or a marital award, the court must also have in personam jurisdiction, or jurisdiction over the person.

Court Jurisdiction Over a Defendant

The Supreme Court has held that a person must have sufficient contact with a state before the courts can exercise personal jurisdiction over him or her.

The court has in personam jurisdiction over any defendant who lives, works or is served with a summons and complaint within the state.  But what about a person who does not meet these requirements?

The court can still assert in personam jurisdiction over a defendant if certain conditions are met under CJP Section 6-103.1 of the Maryland Code:

(a) Maryland must be the matrimonial domicile of the couple immediately before separation; or

(b) There is a written agreement to pay alimony, child support or counsel fees signed by one of the parties in Maryland; or

(c) There is an obligation to pay alimony, child support or counsel fees that arose out of the laws of the State of Maryland.