Vanderbilt Law Review


John W. Wade

First Page



Martin v. Martin' involved a bill in equity by a wife to set aside a divorce decree as fraudulently obtained by the husband. The parties had been domiciled in Pennsylvania. While in Tennessee as a member of the armed forces the husband obtained the divorce in the state. He was subsequently transferred outside the United States. Complainant's bill to set the decree aside for fraud was sustained by the chancellor, defendant being served by publication. Defendant then made a special appearance to contest the jurisdiction of the court and appealed from an adverse ruling.

The Supreme Court held that there was jurisdiction, declaring that the husband "brought the marriage status into the State of Tennessee, and thereafter remained beyond the jurisdiction, so unless the State of Tennessee had jurisdiction to correct the wrong, the appellee would be without remedy."

The result seems clearly correct. Though domicile of one of the parties is regarded as necessary for jurisdiction to grant a divorce, the United States Supreme Court has also held that when the respondent enters an appearance the decision as to jurisdiction is binding on the parties. When this is added to the holding in Adam v. Saenger that a person who brings suit in a state is thereby subject to personal jurisdiction of the court in a cross action, there should be little difficulty in agreeing that the chancery court in the Martin case had jurisdiction to set the divorce decree aside for fraud.