Actions for divorce, judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights and declarations of nullity present jurisdictional questions that have arisen in a number of Southern African cases. Nullity actions of course differ from the others in having the premiss that no marriage exists. There is a line of nullity cases in which the court assumed jurisdiction on the basis that one of the parties was domiciled in the court's area of jurisdiction when the action was instituted.1 With one exception, the marriages had been celebrated in foreign states.
In Ex parte Oxton,2 Oxton married his "wife" in England and resided with her there. He later discovered that she previously had married another man in Northern Ireland and this marriage had not been dissolved. Oxton and his "wife" separated and he emigrated to the Cape Province, where he sought an order declaring the marriage null and void. The court held that it had jurisdiction by virtue of the plaintiff's domicile, notwithstanding that the defendant (the "wife") had never been domiciled or resident in the Cape and the marriage had not been celebrated there.
The court reasoned that it was firmly established that in all matters affecting status, the exercise of jurisdiction was (in the____________________