As you fought with the decision about whether to seek a divorce, you probably gave some thought to a number of concerns. You likely considered what assets you would like to keep, what type of parenting arrangements you would make, and how your new life would be better than being unhappy in your marriage. The divorce process itself may have received significantly less consideration, other than guessing how long it will take or how much it will cost. What about filing your petition for divorce? Are you aware that you may have several possibilities regarding where it can be filed?
In a recent post on this blog, we talked about your right to object if your spouse chooses a particular divorce venue. If you intend to file first, however, you should fully understand how the law applies
County of Residence
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that proceedings for a divorce “shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides.” You are not required to file in the county where you and your spouse last lived together. Instead, you can file in either the county where you currently reside or the county where your spouse lives. The court reserves the right to transfer your case to a different county on its own accord, but that is not likely to happen as a practical consideration.
The law does acknowledge the possibility that you may have a valid justification to file your petition in a county where neither you nor your spouse currently lives. You have the right to file a petition for divorce in any county of your choosing, but if you choose a non-residential county, your petition must include a request for an exception. Mutual convenience is a common reason to request such an exception from the court. For example, if you live in Lake County and your spouse lives in Grundy County, it may be easier for both of you if the court agrees to allow your case to be heard in DuPage County or Cook County.
Objecting to the Chosen Venue
If your spouse filed the petition for divorce before you could, and you disagree with his or her choice of venue, you must file your objection immediately with your response to the divorce petition. You will not get a second chance to do so. Once the proceedings begin, the jurisdiction of the court is not grounds for appealing the decision. All county courts have equal authority for deciding divorce cases in Illinois, regardless of where the parties reside in the state.
Divorce can be a complicated process, but an experienced Kane County family law attorney can help you along the way. Call Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today at 630-377-7770 to schedule a confidential consultation.