A panel of three New Jersey appellate division judges recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by a man against his wife’s lawyers in Israeli.
The lawyers had helped his estranged wife bring a divorce case in Israel and keep him from seeing his daughter, in violation of a prior New Jersey order prohibiting the wife from pursuing any lawsuits in Israel. The man alleged that his wife’s Israeli lawyers defamed him and caused him emotional distress by claims they made in Israel’s civil and religious courts.
However, the New Jersey panel did not judge the man’s claims because it found that New Jersey did not have personal jurisdiction over the firm or its lawyers. Personal jurisdiction is required in order to bring suit against someone in a given state. It can be achieved by personally serving the person with legal papers within the state’s borders.
If personal service within the state is not possible, it requires the person, or entity, to have minimum contacts with the state. For businesses, that usually means doing business or soliciting customers in the state. In this case, the court found no evidence that the Israeli law firm did business or solicited any customers from New Jersey. Therefore, the court dismissed the man’s lawsuit.
Jurisdictional issues often arise in family law cases, most frequently in custody, divorce, or support cases where one spouse or parent has relocated to a new state. If you need help determining where to file your lawsuit, the family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera can direct you in where to file and how to effectively serve the other party.