Reasons for Change of Venue in Colorado Divorce Law

By Heather Frances J.D.

In Colorado, venue for family law actions, such as divorce, is generally located in the county where the defendant lives or where the defendant is officially served. For example, if both a plaintiff and defendant live in the same Colorado county, venue is proper in the county where they live. By contrast, if the defendant is not a Colorado resident but can be served with court documents while he is visiting Colorado, venue is proper in the county where he was served, regardless of whether the plaintiff lives there.

Improper Venue

One reason to change the venue in Colorado is that the venue was not proper in the first place, such as when both husband and wife live in the same county but the case was filed in another county. This reason could also apply if the case was filed in one county but a nonresident defendant was improperly served in another county. If the venue is improper from the beginning, the court does not have jurisdiction and the proceeding must be moved to a proper venue.

Fair Trial

Colorado also recognizes that some divorce cases cannot be fairly tried in the county where the rules of procedure say it should be. Therefore, the court can change venue to another county where the trial is likely to be fair. This rule applies in situations where one party has undue influence over the county’s residents or where the inhabitants are so prejudiced against a party that a fair trial cannot be expected. For example, if the husband or wife is so influential in the county that the other spouse will not receive a fair trial in that divorce action, venue could be changed.

Convenience of Witnesses and Ends of Justice

A Colorado court can also change the venue “when the convenience of witnesses and the ends of justice would be promoted by the change.” For example, if the defendant is a nonresident and was served in a county where he was vacationing, but many case witnesses and the plaintiff are located in a county in an opposite corner of the state, the court may decide that the most appropriate venue is the county where the witnesses and plaintiff are located, rather than the county where the defendant was served.

Agreement of Parties

Colorado allows venue to be changed if the husband and wife both agree to the change. In such cases, the couple can move the case to any other county within that judicial district without having to prove to the judge that it should be moved for one of the other reasons. Unlike other changes of venue, once the second court enters the final divorce orders, those orders will be sent back to the original court for filing so the divorce order will always be officially located in the first court's records.

Requirements for Filing a Change of Venue

To request the court to change the venue of your case, you must file a written motion with the court where the case is filed. This motion must be filed within the same time limits as some other early motions, generally before the defendant files his first response to the case. Colorado provides a sample motion format for persons wanting to change the venue of their cases, but since these time limits are specific to your case, you should consult an attorney if you desire to change the venue.