Diversity Jurisdiction Definition

The power of the federal courts to decide civil disputes between citizens of different states, if the "amount in controversy"— usually meaning the amount of money damages the plaintiff seeks—exceeds an amount set by Congress (currently $75,000). (See U.S. Const., art. III, § 2, cl. 1, 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (2023).)

The term "citizen" includes companies incorporated or doing business in different states. Diversity jurisdiction also authorizes federal courts to hear disputes between citizens of a state and a foreign country or citizens of a foreign country. Federal courts traditionally refuse to exercise their diversity jurisdiction over cases involving domestic relations and probate.