A question we commonly receive is, “what county should I file my case in?”. As with most other topics we discuss, the answer depends. For the purposes of this post, we will assume no minor children are involved.
In Florida, there are generally three ways to determine where to file an action: 1. Where the defendant (respondent) resides, 2. Where the cause of action accrued, or 3. Where the property in litigation is located. In a dissolution of marriage (divorce), number 3 doesn’t apply. Instead, the proper venue can be in the county where the parties last lived with the intent of remaining married.
Where the Defendant Resides
The first way for determining where to file a divorce is straightforward. This is the county that the defendant/respondent currently lives in. For example, let’s say two parties got married in Orange County. The parties separate and Party A moves to Dade County, and Party B moves to Seminole County. Party A wants to file for divorce. Although Party A resides in Dade County, Party A does not have the option to file where the Plaintiff/Petitioner resides (with a couple of exceptions that will be discussed below). Party A may, however, file in Seminole County because that is where Party B resides.
Where the Cause of Action Accrued
The second way to determine where to file is a little more complicated. Let’s say the facts from the previous example are the same, except Party A does not move from Orange County, but Party B still moves to Seminole County. In this example, Party A may file in Orange County. Why? Well, because the that is where the parties got married and thus where the cause of action accrued. This is one of the exceptions to filing where Plaintiff/Petitioner resides.
Where the Parties Last Lived With the Intent of Remaining Married
The third way to determine where to file an action commonly arises when one party has moved out of state. Let’s say the parties get married in New York. The Parties move to Florida to get away from the cold weather and live in Orange County. The parties separate and Party A moves to Dade County, but Party B moves back to New York. In this situation, filing in New York would be very inconvenient for Party A and Party A cannot file for divorce in Dade County. Party A can file in Orange County because that is the last place the parties lived together with the intent of remaining married.
Consent to Venue
This is the second exception to filing where the Plaintiff/Petitioner resides. Some divorces are amicable or uncontested. In these instances, the Defendant/Respondent may not care what venue the divorce is filed in. The Defendant may consent to the venue Petitioner chooses. So, in this instance Petitioner could file in the county in which he/she lives to make the process easier.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when filing for dissolution of marriage. Our attorneys are prepared to assist you and make the process as seamless as possible. If you are considering getting a divorce call the Florida divorce attorneys and Washington DC divorce attorneys at Mosaic Law Firm at (407) 675-3249 or (202) 508-8249.