Where Do I File for Divorce If My Spouse Has Moved to Another County?
In a divorce, as with any legal proceeding, it is important to establish proper venue, that is, the county where the formal lawsuit must be filed. A court has no authority to hear or decide a divorce case without proper venue. And while this may not be difficult if the estranged spouses both live in the same city or county, problems may arise if one spouse has already moved in an effort to escape the marriage.
Under Florida law, a lawsuit must be brought “in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action accrued, or where the property in litigation is located.” In the context of a divorce case, the cause of action generally “accrues” in the county where the “intact marriage was last evidenced,” i.e., where the couple lived together as spouses and intended to remain married indefinitely or permanently. So the mere fact that one spouse has moved to a different county following the couple’s separation does not alter the requirement to file for divorce in the county where they last lived together.
Third District Sorts Out Venue Mix-up Between Volusia, Miami-Dade Courts
A recent decision from the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, Dlin v. Dlin, provides a practical example of what we are talking about. The husband and wife in this case married in 2015 and originally lived in Orange County. In 2018, they briefly moved together to Volusia County. The wife then moved to Miami-Dade County in early 2019, alleging she was a victim of domestic violence. A Miami-Dade judge subsequently granted the wife’s request for a domestic violence restraining order.
In February 2019, the wife filed for divorce, again in Miami-Dade County. Before this lawsuit was served on the husband, he filed his own petition for divorce in Volusia County. The Miami-Dade court declined to dismiss the wife’s lawsuit, while the Volusia County court dismissed the husband’s lawsuit. The husband then appealed, arguing that since he filed his petition before the wife served him with her lawsuit, Volusia County was the proper venue for the divorce.
The Third District agreed with the husband but for a different reason. It held, regardless of when the wife served the husband, venue was always proper in Volusia County because that was “where the parties were last domiciled together.” The wife could not establish proper venue in Miami-Dade even though she fled there to avoid the husband’s violence. The Miami-Dade judge erred in refusing the husband’s motion to dismiss the wife’s action. The Third District therefore remanded the case to the Miami-Dade judge with instructions to transfer the wife’s petition to Volusia County.
Speak with a Boca Raton Divorce Lawyer Today
Establishing proper venue is just one of many legal procedures involved in a divorce. An experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney can advise you on this and many other issues. Contact WiseLieberman, PLLC, at 561-488-7788 today to schedule a consultation.