What if My Spouse Moves to Another County and Files For Divorce?
If you are considering divorce or you believe that your spouse is considering divorce and she or he are planning to move out of the marital home, fast action may be required depending on the circumstances. One reason is venue. To file for divorce in Michigan, generally the person filing for divorce (plaintiff) has to live in the state of Michigan for at least six (6) months before the plaintiff may file for divorce in Michigan, otherwise the plaintiff may have to file for divorce in another state. Venue determines the appropriate county in Michigan where one should file for divorce.
In the case of venue, venue is established after the plaintiff has resided in a county for only ten (10) days. So does this mean that if a spouse moves to another county, he or she may file for divorce in that county rather than where the couple has lived for most of the marriage? That would seem true, however, there are other statutes that provide venue is appropriate first in the county where the defendant (the person that does not file for divorce) resides and the plaintiff may only file in the county where he or she resides if the defendant lives in another state or cannot be located. A relatively recent Court of Appeals decision affirmed a trial court's decision to transfer venue where the Plaintiff filed for divorce in her county rather than the Defendant's county. The court transferred the case to the Defendant's county and awarded the Defendant attorney fees and costs associated with filing the motion challenging venue and transferring the case. However, this was an unpublished opinion so it does not create a precedence that the lower courts have to follow.
The county where the case is flied is where all matters involving the case will be resolved, including post-divorce custody issues. This can make a huge difference in many cases for a variety of reasons, at the very least it is almost always more inconvenient and expensive to have your case in another county as well as making it more difficult to find appropriate legal representation. With this in mind, if your spouse moves out of the home into another county; and (1) you want to file for divorce in your county and (2) you do not want to wait for your spouse to file for divorce with the hope that he or she will file in your county or hope that the court in that county interprets the law correctly and transfers venue to your county, then you have to file for divorce within ten (10) days after the other spouse moves out. If you want to move to another county and file for divorce there, just be aware that you have to live there at least ten (10) days but the court may find that you have violated the venue statutes, transfer the case to the other county and force you to pay costs and fees associated with your spouse having to challenge the venue and transfer the case.
Divorce is a very complicated area of the law and obviously issues regarding venue and where to file must be handled carefully. If you or someone you know has questions regarding family law, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with me by contacting my office at (248) 608-4123 or [email protected].