Law: Residence/Domicile when your home straddles a jursidictional boundary.

For those who say “It can’t happen”, consult

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Line,_Vermont

This is not a request for legal advice. My home is clearly and unambiguously within a single jurisdiction. No specific location is indicated - I’m looking for information about how the law might handle this, with reference to cases that might have happened or statutes that might exist to handle such cases if they ever arose.

For the purposes of this question, “jurisdictional boundary” means a boundary (whether international or not) that is established by treaty, statute, case law, administrative policy, estoppel, or any other legally recognized method and that where whether or not a person resides or is domiciled on one side or the other can have some effect on legal rights or responsibilities.

I understand that “residence” and “domicile”, at least in Common Law jurisdictions, may not always be synonymous. I’m interested in either.

When a person’s home straddles a jurisdictional boundary, how is it determined which of the jurisdictions the person is a resident of or is domiciled in?

I can think of the following possibilities:

  1. It’s wherever their front door is. This might be problematic - is there a legal definition of “front door”? I could see someone just up and declaring their back door to be their front door, or building a symmetric home that doesn’t have a clearly designated “front door”.
  2. It’s the jurisdiction designated by their USPS designated address (basically, you live wherever the Post Office says you do). But what if the person is so far away from civilization that the USPS doesn’t deliver, or if the delivery address is based on administrative practicality of serving your home from one post office versus another, rather than where your land may legally be?
  3. It’s wherever you declare it to be. This could be problematic because I could up and change my residence whenever I feel like it. E.g. “I got a Jury Duty summons? That’s it, I’m now a Nevada resident rather than a California one!”
  4. It’s wherever your bed is. This could result in bizarre scenarios, e.g.:

Friend: “So, what are you doing this weekend?”
robert_columbia: “We’re reorganizing the house. My daughter is going to be moving into her brother’s room and will be sharing the room from now on.”
Friend: “Why would she want to share a room when she used to have her own?”
robert_columbia: "Well, it’s because the Mason Dixon Line runs right between Little Jane and Little Billy’s rooms - Jane lives in Maryland but Billy lives in Pennsylvania. Jane really wants to do Drama Club this year but her school doesn’t have it, so she is moving to Pennsylvania. It was either Billy’s room or live in the Kitchen. There is an additional plus in that now we don’t have to deal with two school districts.

  1. It is wherever you are regarded by friends, family, or the general public as living, e.g.:

Government Busybody: “Mr. robert_columbia, you have been flagged as a potentially ineligible voter. You will only be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.”
robert_columbia: “Why?”
Government Busybody: “Well, we did an audit of the voter records and your house straddles the state line.”
robert_columbia: “Well, I’ve always declared myself to be an Ohio resident, I have an Ohio driver’s license, my car is registered in Ohio and I pay Ohio state taxes.”
Government Busybody: “Well, we called your mother and she said that you live in West Virginia. If you wish to remain registered to vote in Ohio, you must bring evidence that you have a public reputation of being an Ohioan within 30 days. We accept notarized affidavits from members of the community who are willing to swear that ‘Yes, robert_columbia is an Ohioan and has significant ties to the Ohio community.’ Also, we have notified the local school system and if you do not provide the evidence in 30 days, the Superintendent will withdraw your children from Ohio public schools and transfer their records to West Virginia. Have a nice day.”

What happens if I live on a town/county/state/international border?

I have heard that on the Maryland - Delaware border, what matters is where your driveway meets the road.

The legal address of the many buildings affected by the mish-mash of borders in the multiple Dutch/Belgian enclaves of Baarle-Nassau/Baarle-Hertog is determined by where the front door is located. A resident could change the country in which his house was located by moving the front door, sometimes simply by removing the street number plate from one door and putting up a new one on a different door.

The border between the City of Montreal and the City of Westmount runs directly through a large shopping centre/office complex and several residences. (The border was there well before the shopping centre was.) It would be interesting to know how they deal with it.

(3) or (5) if lucky, you get to pick where you live: Cite.

This isn’t going to be an option for the example you cite. If the building straddles the US–Canada border, then why should the USPS and not Canada Post get to determine jurisdiction?

It’s the latter. The USPS doesn’t really care that much about what local government jurisdiction an address is in. ZIP code area boundaries do their own thing. Sometimes the place name isn’t even a legal entity.

A nitpick, but I feel obliged to point out that if your house is on the border between OH and WV, you might have bigger problems than government busybodies.

Indeed, such as where the survivors will be buried.