Jeffrey v. Jeffrey, 153 SW3d 849 (Ky.App., 2005)

Jeffrey v. Jeffrey, 153 SW3d 849 (Ky.App., 2005)
KRS 454.220, enacted in 1992, supersedes prior case law
and permits a divorce court in Kentucky to assert long arm
jurisdiction to distribute marital property, wherever located,
and to set spousal support where Kentucky was the matrimonial
domicile and the action was filed within one year of the date the
respondent became a non-resident of Kentucky.

Marriage occurred in West Virginia in 1956. The spouses resided in Kentucky throughout the marriage, although for the last several years, the husband worked in Virginia, returning to Kentucky on weekends and during vacation. Husband moved permanently to West Virginia after the September 26, 2001 separation. On October 10, 2001, wife filed a petition for dissolution in Kentucky and an affidavit for the appointment of a warning order attorney. On November 6, 2001, husband petitioned for divorce in West Virginia. The Kentucky warning order report indicated husband received notice of the Kentucky divorce petition on October 18, 2001 before the date of filing in West Virginia. The West Virginia action was stayed pending the outcome of the Kentucky case. A default judgment was entered and husband's subsequent CR 60 motion to set it aside was denied.

An appeal from a default judgment is limited to determining whether the pleadings were sufficient to uphold the judgment or whether the appellant was actually in default. The exception is subject matter jurisdiction.

Only one party to a divorce is required to be a resident of Kentucky for the court to exercise jurisdiction to grant a dissolution.

Gaines v. Gaines which held that the court does not have jurisdiction to award maintenance or distribute property located outside of Kentucky was superseded in 1992 by KRS 454.220, the marital long arm statute. A divorce court in Kentucky may assert long arm jurisdiction to distribute marital property or to determine maintenance, may exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident if Kentucky was the matrimonial domicile before the separation, and filed within one year of the date the respondent became a non-resident.

Finally, husband argued that, although the warning order may have sufficed to create jurisdiction to grant the divorce, it was insufficient to permit the distribution of marital property. However, wife had filed an amended petition which was served through the Kentucky Secretary of State in accordance with KRS 454.210(3), thus, exercise of personal jurisdiction was appropriate.