The process of divorce, from preparation and filing the petition through the establishment and enforcement of a finalized divorce agreement, certainly can be very difficult. There are countless subjects to negotiate and factors to consider. Some, including property division or child support, may be more obvious, while others are often less so. Among the less obvious, but still rather important, is selecting the venue in which the proceedings will be held.
What Does the Law Say?
As with most aspects of divorce, the issue of venue is addressed in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The law provides that when one or both spouses have resided in Illinois for at least 90 days, proceedings for divorce are able to be conducted within the state. More specifically, “the proceedings shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides, except as otherwise provided herein, but process may be directed to any county in the State.”
Since it is not uncommon for separated spouses to live in two different counties, the law generally means that most couples will have the choice of two counties in which to petition for divorce. Illinois law also recognizes the viability of a suit based on which action is filed first, meaning that if each spouse files for divorce in a separate county, the petition filed first will be recognized. The Illinois law regarding venue goes on to specify that venue in divorce is not jurisdictional, meaning that the decision of a particular county court, once finalized, cannot be challenged on the basis that the proceedings were held in the wrong county.
Venue in Practice and the Right to Object
Considering the large geographical area that comprises the greater Chicago region, it is hardly surprising that a number of divorce petitions are actually filed in a county that seems more convenient for one or both spouses, rather than those in which they reside. For example, a husband and wife who live in Kane County, but both work long hours in downtown Chicago may try to file their divorce in Cook County. Access to the courthouse or attorneys’ offices may be much easier for each party, and the convenience could allow the process to move much more quickly. While this was not necessarily the intention of the law, according to the Illinois Supreme Court, the proceedings may be permitted in a non-residential county.
To prevent parties from “venue-shopping,” or trying to utilize a seemingly more advantageous county court, the law also grants each party the right to object to the selected venue. The respondent must object immediately, however, and a more suitable venue may be chosen. Objections to venue filed later in the process will not be heard.
Legal Counsel for Your Divorce
If you are considering a divorce, it is important to have the knowledge and skill of an experienced Kane County divorce attorney at your side. Contact our office today and schedule a free initial consultation. We will work with you every step of the way as you look to build a more positive future for yourself and your family. No matter what questions you may have about the divorce process, our team can help, and we look forward to serving you.