How to Move a Divorce Case From One County to Another in Illinois
By John Cromwell
An Illinois divorce proceeding may be held in a county other than where you live. As a result, you may want to shift the trial to your home county for convenience. Generally, the initial venue will be decided by the person who files for divorce. Whichever county she files in is where the case will take place. If you want to change the venue, you are probably the one who did not file for divorce. The appropriate county for a divorce hearing under Illinois law is one where one of the parties resides. As a result, where you live would be an appropriate venue for the hearing but you must affirmatively challenge the current venue in court to change it.
Check that you still have time to object to the venue. Under Illinois law, you have 30 days from the date you received the summons to request a change of venue; you must submit a motion to change the county where the case is taking place. If you do not raise the issue within that period, you will be unable to change the venue at a later time.
Evaluate whether the current county is an inappropriate venue for the case based on residency. The most common way parties challenge venue is by stating no one resides in the county where the case is currently being heard. In Illinois, a person resides in a county where he is physically present and intends to stay for a prolonged period of time. For example, if a person is living in a hotel for a few weeks, you could argue he is not a resident of the county where the hotel is located because he has no intent to stay long-term.
Determine whether there are other reasons to move the hearing to another county. You can argue it would be better for the case to be heard in your county for reasons other than residency. The court will consider transferring the case for a variety of reasons, including the children from the marriage or the marriage property is located in another county.
Go to the clerk of the circuit court where the case is currently being held to obtain blank motion and notice of motion forms. The motion form should say "motion" and have the phrase "in the circuit court of" followed by the name of the county on the top of the page. The notice of motion form should have the phrase "notice of motion" as well as the name of the county where the case is currently assigned at the top of the page.
Complete the header on the motion form. The header should list the names of the parties on the top left hand side. The petitioner's name, or the person who initiated the divorce, should be on top. Your name should be listed below the petitioner's. The case number should be listed on the top right side of the page next to the word "No." The case number can be found on the summons you received notifying you of the divorce.
Draft the first paragraph of the motion. Write using clear and concise language in the body of the motion form you have prepared. The first paragraph should describe the basic facts of the case. This paragraph should focus on the facts that are relevant to changing the venue of the case. Examples of relevant facts to include are where the children of the marriage currently reside and where the person who initiated the case currently resides. The first paragraph should also mention you want to change the hearing's venue.
Present your argument as to why venue should be changed in the body of the motion. Again, use clear and concise language. If the original petitioner for the divorce does not reside in the county where the case is being held, you should mention that now. List all of the reasons why the case should take place in another county, such as the marital property is not located in the county where the hearing is currently set to take place. Refer to the facts presented in the first paragraph to support your arguments.
Sign the completed motion.
Prepare three copies of the motion. One copy is for the court, one is to send to your spouse and one is for yourself. If your spouse is represented by counsel, prepare a fourth copy for his attorney.
Prepare the notices of motion. If your spouse is not represented by counsel, you will need three notices; if he is represented you will need four notices. The notice of motion is used to inform the other parties that you filed a motion, what motion it was, when you are going to court and which judge will be hearing the case. Fill in the names of the parties, case number, your contact information and your address in the appropriate blanks. In the blanks listed "to," fill out the mailing address for your spouse on one line and, if he is represented, the mailing address for your spouse's attorney on another. Do not complete anything else.
File the motion and notice of motion to change venue with the clerk of court in the county where the case is currently located. The clerk will determine a time and place, as well as which judge should hear the motion. Be sure to have the clerk fill in when the case will be heard, where it will be heard and what judge will hear it in the appropriate blanks of the notice of motion. Also have the clerk stamp all copies of the motion and notice of motion to show when it was filed with the court. Leave one copy of the motion and notice with the clerk and take the rest.
Complete the "proof of service by mail" section at the bottom of the notice of motion form. Provide your name, the name of the person you are sending it to, where you will mail the documents, what time you will mail the documents and what day you will mail the documents. Sign the notice when complete.
Mail a copy of the notice of motion and motion to your spouse and his lawyer, if he is represented, using certified mail. Be sure to address the certified mail receipt so that it is returned to you.
Keep the extra motion and notice of motion for your records.
Keep the certified mail receipts from the materials mailed to the opposing parties for your records when those receipts are returned to you.
Consider seeking professional help when participating in the divorce process.
John Cromwell specializes in financial, legal and small business issues. Cromwell holds a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting, as well as a Juris Doctor. He is currently a co-founder of two businesses.