What is Proper Venue for My Florida Divorce?

Divorce decree

A common question asked by individuals entering a divorce, is in what state, county, city, and even court to file their divorce action in. These questions revolve around the legal concepts of jurisdiction and venue. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will be able to discuss with you these legal terms in detail and discover in which court we should file your divorce action.

The term of jurisdiction, refers to which court has the power to exercise control over the action and parties involved. First, to file a divorce action in any court in the State of Florida you must meet the necessary residency requirement of 6 months. Then, you may turn to which court, County, Circuit, District, or Supreme has power over your case. It is important to note that Florida law prescribes circuit courts to handle dissolution of marriage actions. There are 20 judicial circuits in the state of Florida.  Therefore, you must file your divorce petition in the circuit court, that contains your proper county. Venue is where, you must determine the county and circuit you must file in.  

Florida Statute 47.011 provides that all cases may only be heard “where the defendant resides, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located.” However, the Supreme Court removed the property element from dissolution of marriage actions as a couple could hold property in many different counties within the state. Therefore, generally, the county in which you last resided as a married couple is where proper venue will be. In the Butler v. Butler case, the court defined proper venue more specifically as it must be “in the county where the parties last lived with a common intent to remain married,” Butler v. Butler, 866 So. 2d 1280, 1281 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004).

Although this concept may seem simple, it can become difficult if you and your spouse have never lived together as a married couple within the state. For instance, venue can become difficult to determine if a couple recently moved to the State of Florida, having no intention to remain married or live together as couple during their time here. Rather, they moved to be closer to family and have been living separate with the intention of filing for divorce after meeting the residency requirement of 6 months. If this is the case, proper venue will not be where the cause of action accrued, as that would have been the state where the couple moved from, rather, the proper venue will be where the defendant resides. Therefore, if you are filing the petition from your spouse, they will be deemed the defendant and proper venue will be where they reside. However, venue is an item of a civil action that may be waived by the defendant. If your spouse agrees or does not raise improper venue in your divorce proceedings, the right may be waived, and you may continue in the case.

Although determining venue can be rather simple for some couples, others can have difficulty with the legal nuisances and statutory requirements. Therefore, seek out an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney to aid you in this process. We will ensure proper jurisdiction and venue requirements are met and allow you to smoothly proceed with the litigation.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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