Why the Venue Matters When it Comes to Divorce

When starting a complex legal process like a divorce, the location of the court deciding the case is often overlooked by both parties that are eager to get the more important details worked out. In fact, venue is a word rarely used for legal proceedings, but a good legal venue is just as important as the right setting for a rock concert or orchestra performance. Discover what a venue is in relation to a divorce case and why it matters.

Meaning of Divorce Venue

While the word venue might refer to a specific location when you're describing a concert, it describes the county you're completing the divorce proceedings in for this use. Any county can be considered a venue, and naturally you'll be holding the actual hearings at the court house or other administrative building designated by that county for divorce proceedings.

Depending on how the legislative system is structured in the state and county, you could be dealing with the circuit, superior, family, or other court. You don't get to choose which court system is used for the trial, only the county in which the divorce occurs.

Varying State Laws

Each state sets different requirements on how you can change where the hearings are held for your divorce. Some states, such as Illinois, state that you should handle the issue in your county of residence, but allow for you to move to any county in the state as long as you have a reason for doing so. Others stipulate that you must file for divorce in your county of residence and allow for no other variations, while some allow you to pick any county or any other state in the country without restriction.

Don't forget that many states require you to live within their borders for a specific amount of time before being able to file for divorce there, or at least establish some tie through tax payments, child school enrollment, or business location.

Disagreeing Over the Venue

Of course, whoever files for divorce first gets the chance to pick the venue. However, you're not locked into the county or state your spouse chooses just because their paperwork made it to the court first. Every state that allows for a change of venue away from the county of residence also stipulates a time period for objecting to the chosen location.

Be prepared to make an immediate rebuttal upon finding out about a venue change because these time periods are usually very short so that the proceedings aren't hung up unfairly while you prepare your argument. For the best results, you should take the initiative to choose the venue instead of leaving the decision up to your spouse, even if you expect your divorce to be amicable.

Choosing the Right Venue

Why does it matter where the actual proceedings occur? First, you'll spend quite a bit of time in the courtroom if there's any disagreements over the division of property or custody. If your spouse is living hours away from you already and chooses their home county as the venue, you could be required to travel all that distance for each hearing and meeting. Finding a fair venue helps both parties afford the expenses of divorce without the extra burden of travel costs.

For people who are trying to make their divorce as strategic as possible, establishing residency or business presence in another state allows them to use different state laws to their advantage.

For example, many celebrities and other rich couples choose Florida for divorcing because it has laws that are kinder to people with pre-nuptial agreements and has a faster process for clearing divorce cases. Just keep in mind that your spouse must have some tie to the state you choose as well or the courts there won't be able to actually enforce any decisions made there.

For more information or assistance, contact legal firms like Bineham & Gillen, PLLC.