Choosing a Venue for Your Divorce

When you decide to get divorced, you probably realize that you will need to file your divorce petition at the county courthouse. But, how do you know which county? Does it matter? According to Illinois law, the county you choose for your divorce matters in some ways but does not matter in others, and it important to understand the difference.

Venue and Jurisdiction

In order for a particular court to be allowed to hear any civil proceeding, the court must have jurisdiction over the parties. This means that parties will be obligated to comply with the court’s decision. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides that, in a divorce, venue is not jurisdictional, meaning that the court of any county in the state is fit to rule on a divorce or related proceeding from anywhere else in Illinois.


The IMDMA also specifies that proceedings for a divorce or family law matter “shall be had in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides.” This creates the expectation that your divorce case should be filed in the county where you live or the county where your spouse lives. If you choose a different county, you must file a motion with your petition explaining why did so and asking the court to waive the normal venue requirements.

For example, if you currently reside in Kane County and your spouse lives in Will County, the law expects that your divorce will take place in one of those two counties. If you both work in DuPage County, however, you may wish to file your petition in DuPage County to make court appearances and other considerations easier. It would then be up to the court to decide if your motion should be granted.

Objecting to Choice of Venue

If your spouse disagrees with the county that you choose, even if it the county where one of you resides, he or she must present the concern immediately. The objection must be included with his or her response to the filing, as it will not be permitted later in the proceedings. Once the court has decided to allow the process to continue in a given county, neither party may use the ruling as the basis for an appeal.

Divorce is a multifaceted process with many important considerations that must be addressed. For help with your case, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney today. Call Abear Law Offices at 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation at any one of our five convenient locations.