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Fox v. Fox

Court of Appeals of Kansas

March 14, 2014

VERONIA FOX, Appellant,
v.
EDWARD FOX, Appellee

Appeal from Riley District Court; JOHN F. BOSCH, judge.

SYLLABUS

BY THE COURT

1. Whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question of law over which an appellate court exercises unlimited review.

2. When possible in construing federal statutes, state courts should seek direction from the decisions of federal courts interpreting those statutes. Absent such direction, it is within the appellate court's power to interpret federal statutes. When an appellate court can find no binding authority, it must construe the provisions according to ordinary principles of statutory construction.

3. The phrase " consent to the jurisdiction of the court" in the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. § 1408(c)(4) (2012) refers to personal jurisdiction, not to subject matter jurisdiction. A party cannot consent to subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the USFSPA.

4. Under Kansas law, parties cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction by consent, waiver, or estoppel. Equitable arguments and doctrines, no matter how compelling, are insufficient by themselves to confer subject matter jurisdiction upon a court.

5. The subject matter jurisdiction over marital property created by K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 23-2801 does not extend to include property of parties to a divorce action filed in a foreign country when the parties never lived in Kansas and did not own property in Kansas, prior to the divorce becoming final in the foreign country.

Mark Edwards, of Hoover, Schermerhorn, Edwards, Pinaire & Rombold, of Junction City, for appellant.

David P. Troup, of Weary Davis, L.C., of Junction City, for appellee.

Before MCANANY, P.J., STANDRIDGE and STEGALL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 401

[50 Kan.App.2d 63] Stegall, J.

Edward and Veronia Fox were married in Germany on December 22, 1979. At that time, Edward Fox was a serviceman with the United States Army stationed in Germany and Veronia Fox was a German citizen. Approximately 17 years into the marriage, Edward Fox retired from the United States Army and began employment with the United States Civil Service. During the entirety of the marriage the parties were domiciled in Germany, and when the marriage failed, Edward Fox filed for divorce in the district court of Aschaffenburg, Germany. On October 13, 2009, that court entered a final decree of divorce. At Edward Fox's request, and over Veronia Fox's objection, the German court did not attempt to enter a judgment with respect to ...


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