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There are two major types of jurisdiction: personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.  Generally speaking, unless specified otherwise, jurisdiction means subject matter jurisdiction.

Subject matter jurisdiction means the power of a court to hear a certain type of case.  For example, federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction to hear civil cases involving parties from different states where the amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.

In addition federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction to hear cases arising from federal laws and the Constitution.

In some cases, federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction.  For example, federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases.  As a result, state courts lack jurisdiction to hear bankruptcy cases.

Sometimes jurisdiction refers to the state or territory that has the power to hear a particular case. For example, let’s say a couple wants to divorce and they live in State X. We would say that State X is the only appropriate jurisdiction for the divorce because no other state would have power to dissolve the marriage.

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