Domicile Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Domicile, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Domicile?

n. Location of a person’s permanent principal home to which he/she returns or intends to return. The definition is significant when probating a deceased’s estate and determining in which state to file, assess income or inheritance taxes, where a party can commence divorce proceedings, or whether a “diversity of citizenship” between two parties exists that provides federal courts jurisdiction over a lawsuit. If a person has several residences, it becomes a matter of proof as to which is the state of domicile. A business’s domicile is the state where its headquarters are located.

History and Meaning of Domicile

The term "domicile" has its roots in the Latin word "domus," meaning home or household. It refers to the location of a person's permanent principal home, to which they return or plan to return. The concept of domicile has long been used in legal proceedings to determine which state has jurisdiction over a case, assess taxes, or probate an estate.

Examples of Domicile

  1. A person who lives in New York City for work but maintains a permanent home in Florida is domiciled in Florida.
  2. If a person moves to New Mexico with no intention of ever returning to California, they have changed their domicile.
  3. In a divorce proceeding, determining the domicile of both parties can impact which state the case is heard in and the laws that apply.
  4. For tax purposes, a business's domicile is the state where its headquarters are located.
  5. If a person spends six months living in a state but still votes, pays taxes, and holds a driver's license in their previous state, they have not changed their domicile.

Legal Terms Similar to Domicile

  1. Residency: Where a person lives or has a physical presence.
  2. Citizenship: A legal status granted to a person by a country or state.
  3. Venue: A specific court or geographic location where a legal case can be heard.