Choosing Where to File Your Divorce Petition
So, you have made the decision to pursue a divorce. After months of talking, counseling, and family therapy, you and your spouse have realized it is time end your marriage and go your separate ways. You have made basic arrangements for your property and your children, and you have reached an agreement on spousal support. All that is left to do is to file your petition with the appropriate court. But which court is the right one? You may be surprised to learn that most couples have at least a couple of options.
The Letter of the Law
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that proceedings for divorce “shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides.” The plaintiff is the spouse who files the divorce petition, making the other spouse the defendant. This means that law presumes that your divorce will be heard in the circuit court of the county where either you or your spouse live at the time the petition is filed.
It is not uncommon for spouses to separate prior to a divorce, and in the Chicago area, one spouse often finds a new place in a different county. If this describes your situation, you have the option of filing your petition in either location.
Selecting a Different Venue
There may be situations, however, in which you wish to file for divorce in a county where neither you nor your spouse lives. For example, if you spent the majority of your marriage in Kane County and you and your spouse have business holdings there but you now both live in other counties, you could file a motion with your petition asking for an exception to the normal rule. When a divorce is filed in a non-residential county, a hearing must be held before the proceedings can continue on whether such a waiver is appropriate.
Objecting to Your Spouse’s Choice
In the event that your spouse files a petition for divorce before you do, you have the right to object to his or her choice of venue. However, you must state your objections immediately in your initial response, as once proceedings begin, you will not be able to raise the question again. The courts in every county in the state have equal jurisdiction to decide on a divorce case, so the choice of venue cannot be cited as grounds for an appeal.
Call Us for Help
If you have questions about the divorce process in Illinois, an experienced Geneva family law attorney can help you find the answers. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.