Domicile of Choice

One who is legally capable of changing his domicile may attain a domicile of choice by simultaneously being physically present in the new location while possessing the requisite attitude of mind. (RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONFLICT OF LAWS § 15 (1971). See Bell v. Bell, 326 Pa. Super. 237, 473 A.2d 1069 (1984). The court held that a husband had established domicile in Nevada even though he moved to that state for the purpose of obtaining a divorce.)

The requisite attitude of mind is the present intent to make a principal home in the place, with no present intent to move elsewhere. (RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF CONFLICT OF LAWS § 15 comment a (1971).)

Intent is usually determined by the person’s conduct and surrounding circumstances. A person’s own declaration of domicile is admissible as evidence, but is not very persuasive because of its self-serving nature. (See Kjarstad v. State, 703 P2d 1167 (Alaska 1985); In re Esser’s Will, 38 Misc. 2d 963, 239 N.YS.2d 585 (Sur. Ct. 1963); Meltzer & Weisberg v. Commonwealth Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 80 Pa. Commw. 178, 471 A.2d 157 (1984).)

Courts concentrate on such factors as substantial business and social contacts, type of home, membership in church or other organizations, registration to vote, place of driver’s license and car registration, and similar elements demonstrating that a particular locality has the most significant relationship to the person.


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