In the Fletcher case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had to decide whether there was a residency requirement in a case where the grounds for divorce arose within the state.
The court discussed the statutory history and case law and decided as follows:
1. If grounds for divorce occur within the state, there does not have to be one year of residency, but
2. at least one of the parties must live in Maryland when the complaint is filed for the court to have jurisdiction over the divorce.
The court then turned its attention to the facts. Louis had moved to Maryland from Virginia after his wife separated from him and hit a lottery jackpot. He filed for divorce in Maryland, then she filed in Virginia. The Maryland court said that Louis was not a bona fide resident because he was just after the lottery money, and it dismissed Louis’s case for lack of jurisdiction.
But the Maryland appeals court said that even if Louis had moved to Maryland to take advantage of its more favorable divorce laws, motive is not an issue in determining whether he was a bona fide resident or not. The question is not why he moved here but whether he moved here and if he intends to stay. The court said this was to be determined by such factors as where he lives, where he votes, where he pays taxes, where he receives mail, where his personal belongs are, his current driver’s license, and where he banks.
Therefore, with all due respect to Virginia, the court found that Maryland did have jurisdiction over the divorce and Louis was allowed to proceed with his divorce in Maryland.
Fletcher v. Fletcher, 95 Md. App. 114; 619 A2d 561 (1993)