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1995 U. Ill. L. Rev. 813 (1995)
Parents, Partners, and Personal Jurisdiction

handle is hein.journals/unilllr1995 and id is 827 raw text is: PARENTS, PARTNERS, AND
Rhonda Wasserman*
Generally speaking, a state court can compel a person to
appear and defend a civil suit only if the defendant has mini-
mum contacts with the state such that the assertion of jurisdic-
tion over her would be fair and reasonable. In divorce and child
custody actions, however, state courts often assert jurisdiction
over defending spouses or parents who lack such contacts.
Courts justify such assertions of jurisdiction by arguing that a
state must have power to determine the civil status of its citi-
zens (regardless of whether others who may have an interest in
that status are within the court's jurisdiction). In her article,
Professor Wasserman challenges the appropriateness of this sta-
tus exception in both the divorce and child custody contexts.
The article carefully explores the rationales that have been of-
fered, historically and presently, to justify the status exception.
The article then critiques each rationale in turn, demonstrating
that in the vast majority of divorce and child custody cases, due
process requires that the defending party have some connection
to the forum state.
[S]ettled family relationships may be destroyed by a procedure
that we would not recognize if the suit were one to collect a gro-
cery bill.1
The intersection between family law and jurisdiction is messy. If
a married couple with children decides to divorce, a court may be
asked to resolve at least three different sets of family law issues:
Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law. A.B. 1980, Cornell University;
J.D. 1983, Yale Law School.
I would like to thank Lea Brilmayer, George Cohen, Stan Cox, Susan Koniak, Jules Lobel,
Margaret Mahoney, Howard A. Stern, and Welsh White for their invaluable comments on earlier
drafts of this article. I am grateful to Beth Pride and Scott Klugman for their diligent research
and editorial assistance. I dedicate this article to my parents, Deborah and Marvin Wasserman.
1. Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287, 316 (1942) [hereinafter Williams 1] (Jack-
son, J., dissenting) (footnote omitted).

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