“It really comes down to: What is the home state? And each state is a little bit different, but it’s usually where the children have resided during the six months prior to filing that divorce petition,” attorney Neama Rahmani exclusively told Us Weekly on Thursday, September 21. “In this particular case, it seems like the home state is Florida. So, Joe has the upper hand here.”
Less than one month after Jonas, 34, filed for divorce in Florida — the pair had been living in Miami with their children — Turner, 27, sued her estranged husband. She alleged in court documents on Thursday that Jonas is wrongfully detaining their children in New York City following their split. In the paperwork, reportedly filed in New York, Turner also accused Jonas of being in “possession of the children’s passports” and refusing “to return” them or to allow their kids to travel overseas.
Rahmani, meanwhile, claimed that Turner — who grew up in England — was “forum shopping” with her recent legal filing.
“She’s trying to get a favorable court and a favorable judge. The judge in Florida — at least according to Joe’s lawyer — has already said that the children can’t be moved out of state,” he said, referring to the former couple’s daughters, Willa, 3, and their 14-month-old whose name has yet to be revealed. “This is a standard order whenever there is a family law petition filed and there’s a dispute over custody. You can’t take the children out of state, and you certainly can’t take them out of the country.”
In response to Turner’s lawsuit, Jonas’ rep denied the accusations in a statement to Us on Thursday.
“This is an unfortunate legal disagreement about a marriage that is sadly ending. When language like ‘abduction’ is used, it is misleading at best, and a serious abuse of the legal system at worst. The children were not abducted,” the statement to Us read on Thursday. “After being in Joe’s care for the past three months at the agreement of both parties, the children are currently with their mother. Sophie is making this claim only to move the divorce proceedings to the U.K. and to remove the children from the U.S. permanently.”
According to Rahmani, Jonas is “not abducting” his children by keeping them in the United States. The musician previously noted in his divorce petition that it was “in the best interests of the minor children that the parties have shared parental responsibility” after confirming his kids were currently residing with him in Miami.
“If a judge has jurisdiction — which means the right to hear the case — and it appears that the Florida judge does have jurisdiction to do so. So, that order is binding. You have to litigate the case through the Florida courts. You can’t file elsewhere,” Rahmani noted. “The home state has jurisdiction. And it seems like if by all accounts, the kids were living in Miami, so that would be the appropriate court.
Rahmani went on to say that Turner must “prove” there were plans for her and Jonas to move their family to the U.K. ahead of the split.
“Even though the home state was Florida, the home state can change based on the actions of the parents and children,” he told Us. “It’s possible that the jurisdiction changes. If the kids are now living in New York and have been for months, then the jurisdiction may shift and then your court may handle the case moving forward. It really depends on where the kids have been living right before the petition and where they’re planning to live going forward. And if that’s all changed, then it may be New York or it may be the U.K. That’s why so much of Sophie’s petition and her filing is spent on the parents’ future plans for the kids to move to the U.K. So if she can prove that the parents agreed to move the children to the U.K, that would divest the jurisdiction of the previous home state court and move it to the U.K or elsewhere.”
Turner, however, “may have a chance” of coming out on top in the messy lawsuit.
“She just needs to prove that it’s in the best interest of the child to move the children out of that home state. That’s just a presumption, but it doesn’t mean that kids have to stay there permanently,” Rahmani concluded.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi