Considered on Briefs: April 20, 2015.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT TRIPP COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE KATHLEEN F. TRANDAHL, Judge.
Reversed and remanded.
BROOKE D. SWIER SCHLOSS, SCOTT R. SWIER of Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC, Avon, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellant.
STEPHANIE E. POCHOP, KELSEA K. SUTTON of Johnson Pochop & Bartling, LLC, Gregory, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellee.
WILBUR, Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER, SEVERSON, and KERN, Justices, concur.
[¶1] Grant Rush filed an action for divorce in Tripp County, South Dakota. The circuit court dismissed the action for lack of personal jurisdiction and, alternatively, on the basis of the forum non conveniens doctrine. We reverse and remand.
[¶2] Julie and Grant Rush were married on January 6, 1990, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. They have two adult sons, both of whom are alleged to be disabled. Julie, Grant, and their two sons resided together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, until as late as June 29, 2012. Shortly after June 29, 2012, Grant left the marital home without notice to Julie or their children and moved into his mother's home in Winner, South Dakota. Julie and the children continued to reside at the marital home in Pennsylvania.
[¶3] On July 25, 2012, Julie filed a " Uniform Support Petition" in Pennsylvania seeking child and spousal support. Pennsylvania law authorizes child support for disabled adult children. The circuit court in this action stated, " In a significant difference from South Dakota law, under Pennsylvania law[,] parents may have an ongoing legal duty to provide child support for an adult child who has a physical or mental condition at the time the child reaches 18 and that prevents the adult child from becoming self-supporting[.]" On July 30, 2012, five days after Julie filed her Uniform Support Petition, Grant filed for a divorce in Tripp County, South Dakota. Grant alleged that he was a resident of Winner, South Dakota, for purposes of personal jurisdiction. Grant mailed a copy of the summons and complaint, as well as notices of admission of service, to Julie the same day he filed for a divorce--July 30, 2012. Julie signed an admission of service on August 17, 2012.
[¶4] On April 4, 2014, Julie filed a motion to dismiss the divorce action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The circuit court conducted a hearing on May 6, 2014, and issued findings of fact and conclusions of law on October 2, 2014. The court dismissed the divorce action " for lack of jurisdiction and on the grounds of the forum non conveniens doctrine." In support of dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, the court found " Grant was unable to credibly establish many of the primary hallmarks of true South Dakota residency at the time he filed for divorce in this state." At the time Grant filed for a divorce on July 30, 2012, Grant did not own any real property in South Dakota. He did not have a South Dakota issued driver's license nor was he registered to vote in South Dakota. There was no evidence that Grant had any long-term plans to move to South Dakota before he filed for divorce. He did not advise important creditors, such as his medical care providers, that he was moving to South Dakota. The financial affidavit he filed with his ...