Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sua Sponte Order Of Dismissal Reversed In Annulment Action

In Brown v. Cowell (1D09-82), the First District reversed the trial court's sua sponte order of dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.  The court stated:
Appellant, a resident of Duval County, Florida, married Daucia T. Cowell, a citizen and resident of the sovereign nation of Jamaica, in Portmore, Jamaica, on April 14, 2008. Shortly thereafter, appellant disaffirmed the marriage upon learning that appellee entered the marriage solely for the limited purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Although personal service may be a preferred method of process, statutory law provides for constructive service of process on a non-resident defendant in any action for annulment where personal service cannot be had. See §§ 49.011, 49.021, Fla. Stat. (2008)
Also, the circuit court did not lack subject matter jurisdiction. A circuit court’s jurisdiction over a petition for annulment arises from its “equitable chancery jurisdiction,” Wright v. Wright, 778 So. 2d 352, 354 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001), and is not predicated upon the citizenship or residency of the respondent.


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