Domicile is relevant to an individual's "personal law," which includes the law that governs a person's status and their property. It is independent of a person's nationality. Although a domicile may change from time to time, a person has only one domicile, or residence, at any point in their life, no matter what their circumstances. Domicile is distinct from habitual residence, where there is less focus on future intent.
|Conflict of laws and |
private international law
|Substantive legal areas|
As domicile is one of the connecting factors ordinarily used in common law legal systems, a person can never be left without a domicile and a domicile is acquired by everyone at birth. Generally domicile can be divided into domicile of origin, domicile of choice, and domicile by operation of law (also known as domicile of dependency). When determining the domicile of an individual, a court applies its own law and understanding of what domicile is.
In some common-law countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, the concept of domicile has been subject to statutory reform. Further, under Canada’s Divorce Act, domicile has been replaced as the basis for which a court in a province has jurisdiction to hear and determine a divorce proceeding. Instead, "A court in a province has jurisdiction to hear and determine a divorce proceeding if either spouse has been habitually resident in the province for at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of the proceeding". Although domicile was traditionally known as the most appropriate connecting factor to establish an individual’s personal law, its significance has declined over the years in common law systems.