Filing for Divorce: Residency and Venue
The process of divorce, from beginning to end, is different for everyone. Few couples rarely jump to ending a marriage at the first sign of trouble. However, couples who enter divorce must decide at some point that the marriage is not salvageable. Legally dissolving the relationship may be the best decision.
Once the decision to divorce is made, the hardest part of the process may seem over, yet filing a divorce petition and proceeding through the legal system is not as seamless as one may think. First, one must determine where he or she is eligible to file for divorce, and in which specific courthouse to file the papers. Someone seeking divorce cannot simply walk up to any Court in the state to file the necessary documents. At the very least, residency and venue requirements must be satisfied before a Court will accept a person's petition for divorce.
Residency and venue issues are the gateway to starting the divorce process. Yet while these issues are straightforward for most couples, others may have reason to challenge the opposing party's claim. Consider how to establish residency and determine venue for purposes of divorce, as well as when someone may want to dispute these issues.
Illinois law requires at least one spouse be a resident of this state in order to get divorced by an Illinois Court. Usually, residency is not an issue because both spouses have lived in the state for an extended period of time and consider Illinois home. Establishing residency is achieved if a person has his or her principal residence in the state, even if the person does not live there full-time, or by residing in a state for a definite and non-temporary purpose, such as a new job.
For divorce purposes specifically, once a person becomes a resident, that residency must be maintained for the 90 day period immediately following the filing of the divorce petition and before the divorce is finalized. However, the parties can consent to jurisdiction if the technical requirements are not met. If it appears that neither spouse qualifies as a resident, an objection on this issue should made right away. Otherwise, the ability to challenge residency may be waived.
Venue is related to finding the proper place to initiate a legal proceeding. Additionally, venue is based upon the premise that the Court chosen to begin the legal action should be located in the place where the parties have connections. This concept is to prevent a party from starting a legal action and filing in a location that is inconvenient to the responding party. For purposes of divorce, Illinois law provides that the divorce petition should be filed in the county where one or both spouses reside. However, a party can file in another county of his or her choosing, assuming he or she has a reasonable basis for the selection. For example, if each party lives in different counties but work in the same county, then filing the petition in the county where both parties work is likely a more suitable choice from a logistical point-of-view. Still, the party responding to a divorce petition always has the option of challenging venue if the one selected seems unsuitable.
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his wife are in the midst of an ongoing battle over venue in their divorce case. Former Rep. Jackson is fighting to have the case transferred from Washington D.C. to Illinois Courts. He claims key events in his wife's career, and actions she took related to their property in Illinois while he was incarcerated, are sufficient to justify the transfer.
If a party wants to challenge venue, the objection must be made at the outset of the case to avoid losing the ability to question the objection. In addition, the objection should be supported with reasons why the selected venue is inappropriate as well as better alternatives.
Consult a Divorce Attorney
The law is full of technical nuances that seem trivial, but can have a profound effect on legal proceedings. Working with an experienced divorce attorney should eliminate the possibility of becoming tripped up by procedural rules that are easily confusing to those unfamiliar with the law. More importantly, though, is working with an experienced Hoffman Estates family law attorney who understands the stress of divorce and will work with your best interests in mind. The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. brings this committed approach to their clients, and can do the same for you.