Florida Divorce Law for Change of Venue

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    • Venue might not be important to the parties if one party lives in adjacent counties, but if the parties live in different areas of the state, a party might fight for venue in his county because of the cost of litigation. If you retain a Polk County attorney but the venue is in Dade County, your attorney is going to charge you for travel costs to attend court in Dade County, unless the attorney can talk the court into letting him appear by phone. Some judges do not allow telephone hearings.


    • Venue allows the courts to rule fairly as to where the action should be brought. If the parties live far apart, without venue laws, venue would be a bone of contention, because neither party would want the expense of litigating a divorce action on the other side of the state. The venue law (F.S. Ch. 47) keeps parties from fighting over where a divorce action should be filed.

    Time Frame

    • A party may request a change of venue because he might think he will not receive a fair trial in the proper venue or because the person requesting the change (movant) thinks he cannot receive a fair trial because the population of that county thinks that the person requesting is despicable. Though rare in divorce cases, public figures could have these issues, even in divorce cases. A motion for change of venue must be filed within 10 days of the filing of the divorce, unless the movant can show the court he has a good reason (good cause) for requesting the change after the time frame outlines in Florida Statutes §47.101(2).


    • The change of venue statute has several features written into it to make it easier for parties to get a fair trial, to make it easier on the parties or to make it easier for witnesses to testify on behalf of the parties. If the proper venue is a hardship on the parties because both parties moved after separation and live in different counties, either party can apply for a change of venue to an appropriate court with jurisdiction. This allows the parties to stipulate to a different venue if both parties believe it is in their best interest to move venue (Florida Statutes 47.122). If after a change of venue, the court determines that it is not in the interest of one or both parties, according to Florida Statutes §47.131, the court will change the venue back to the original venue for the convenience of the parties. Another feature of the venue statute is that testimony of witnesses can be taken by alternative methods, such as telephone or video appearances (Florida Statutes §47.181).


    • Often people confuse jurisdiction and venue. Venue is location. Jurisdiction means that the court has the authority to hear a certain case, such as a divorce case. Unless the parties agree to change venue, the court cannot order a change of venue without hearing testimony, unless it is clear that the case was originally filed in the wrong venue. Depending on local rules, even if it is clear that the case was filed in the wrong venue, the court might still require testimony as to the change of venue.

    Potential Outcomes

    • A change of venue has the potential to severely affect the outcome of a divorce case. If venue is changed through application of the court (because one of the parties does not agree), it can affect that party's ability to attend hearings. A party's appearance is required at most hearings in divorce court, because the rulings at these hearings can significantly change the way one or both parties live. If one of the parties cannot afford to attend a hearing, she might not be able to testify as to her side or might not be able to attend a mandatory-appearance hearing, thus incurring sanctions by the court.


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