What does the word "domicile" mean, and why is it so important? : Common Family Law Issues (Questions and Answers)
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What does the word "domicile" mean, and why is it so important?

by Jerome C. Williams, Jr. on 08/07/16

Although legal residence and domicile both refer to the place where a person has a fixed abode with a present intent of making it his or her permanent home, residence is an objective fact while domicile places the emphasis on intent.  A party may intend to make Florida his or her domicile and residence, but the party has no Florida residence if he or she does not have the requisite presence in Florida for six months before filing. [Fla Stat Section 61.021; McCarthy v. Alexander, 786 So 2d 1284 (Fla 2d DCA 2001) (trial court properly dismissed wife's petition for dissolution of marriage for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction where wife had not been present in Florida for six months before filing).]

Weiler v. Weiler, 861 So 2d 472 (Fla 5th DCA 2003).  Error to deny husband's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction where record did not support allegations of wife's petition seeking to establish personal jurisdiction over husband pursuant to Fla Stat Section 48.193.  There is a difference between the terms domicile, sometimes referred to as legal, permanent or primary residence, and residence.  Domicile involves the intent to make Florida his or her legal residence and is the place where an individual has a true, fixed and permanent home, to which he intends to return whenever he is absent.  A person can have only one legal residence or domicile.  On the other hand, a person may have several residences.  The difference between domicile and residence is a matter of objective fact.  Domicile is established when there is a good faith intention to establish a particular residence as a permanent home, coupled with the physical move to the new residence, as evidenced by positive overt acts.  The record in this case establishes that the parties' marital abode was Illinois as evidenced by their state and federal income tax returns during the period the wife claims Florida was their marital domicile.  Further, the Florida farm was just one of several corporate residences the parties used, and it was the wife's place of business.  Although the wife obtained a Florida driver's license and registered to vote in Florida, the husband never did and Florida was never his domicile. Service of process quashed.

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