Did your spouse recently file for divorce? If so, he or she had the opportunity to choose where to file the petition and the county where your case will be heard. You may be surprised to learn that if your spouse has filed first, you are not necessarily forced to go along with his or choice. Under Illinois law, you have the right to file an objection regarding the chosen venue but you must act quickly or you could miss your chance.
Throughout the legal system, the term “venue” refers to the county or district court in a which a given case will be handled. Divorce cases in Illinois are typically heard in the court circuit court system. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act presumes that divorce proceedings will be held in the county where at least one of the spouses currently lives. For example, if a couple has separated and filed for divorce, and the husband maintains an apartment in Kane County while the wife remains in the marital home in DuPage County, the law expects that the couple will file their divorce petition in either of those counties. A county in which neither spouse lives may be selected if the petitioning spouse presents a valid reason for choosing that county.
Venue and Jurisdiction
Many people use the word “venue” interchangeably with “jurisdiction,” and while they are similar, the terms are not exactly the same. Venue refers to where the matter is heard, jurisdiction addresses the authority of a particular court to hear and rule on the case at hand. In regard to an Illinois divorce, there are expectations in the law about the choice of venue, but all county courts have the same jurisdiction over divorce proceedings for anyone who resides in the state. This means the court’s decision in a divorce case cannot be appealed on the grounds that the particular county court did not have the authority to rule on the matter.
Should You Ask for a Different Venue?
Your spouse may have chosen a specific county for a number of reasons. If you believe, however, that allowing your divorce to proceed in the chosen county would give your spouse an undue advantage during the process, speak with your lawyer about filing an objection to the selected venue. An objection may be warranted if:
- The court in question has a reputation for deciding divorce matters in a certain way;
- Your spouse is influential in the local community which could lead to partiality concerns; or
- You live unreasonably far from the chosen county.
In most situations, you will need to file your objections about the venue in your initial response to the divorce complaint. Failure to act quickly will likely result in your objection being denied by the court later in the proceedings.
Call for Help With Your Case
If your spouse has filed a petition for divorce and you are concerned about the chosen venue, contact an experienced Kane County divorce attorney. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today. We will help you explore your options and work with you in protecting your best interests.