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In the United States, many state court systems are divided into divisions such as criminal, civil, family, and probate. A court within any one of those divisions would lack subject matter jurisdiction to hear a case regarding matters assigned to another jurisdiction.
The term is most broadly developed at the level of the United States Federal Courts . There, litigants must show that they fall into one of two broad categories of subject matter jurisdiction: diversity jurisdiction and federal question jurisdiction. According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a federal court may dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction upon motion of a party or sua sponte, upon its own initiative.
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