Burnham v. Superior Court

495 U.S. 604 (1990)


The Burnhams lived in New Jersey and then separated. They agreed that Mrs. Burnham (P), who intended to move to California, would take custody of the children. Before departing for California P and Mr. Burnham (D) agreed that she would file for divorce on grounds of 'irreconcilable differences.' D filed for divorce in New Jersey state court on grounds of 'desertion.' D did not obtain an issuance of summons against P and did not attempt to serve her with process. P demanded that D adhere to their prior agreement to submit to an 'irreconcilable differences' divorce, brought suit for divorce in California state court in early January 1988. D came to California on business and was served with the divorce papers. D came for business but went to visit his daughters. D had no other contacts with California other than a few short visits on business and to visit his children. P had D served with a California court summons. In a special appearance, D moved to quash the service contending that his contacts with California were insufficient to confer jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion, and the state court of appeal denied his petition for mandamus; his physical presence and personal service in the state constituted valid grounds for jurisdiction. The Supreme Court granted review.