Florida's laws of civil procedure address change of venue. These laws pertain to civil cases, including divorce cases. Whichever spouse files for divorce first may file in the county where the spouse resides or in the county where the couple last lived together. The spouse who files the initial action is known as the "petitioner," and the spouse on the receiving end of the divorce action is called a "respondent."
The location of the court where a civil case is filed is known as the "venue." Like all states, Florida has rules governing venue to provide fairness to both parties in a divorce. If venue rules did not exist, one party could be forced to travel great distances to appear in court. Because the ability to appear in court is crucial to any divorce case, change of venue is available if a court deems it fair.
Florida's change of venue laws are found in 47.011 of the state's statutes and apply to divorce proceedings insofar as ensuring that it is convenient for both parties in a divorce to attend hearings. Often, married couples separate prior to divorce; spouses might not live in the same county or even in the same part of the state following separation. Thus, when a petitioner files for a divorce, a respondent has the right to ask the family court for a change of venue if traveling to the court where the petitioner filed would create undue hardship. Furthermore, a Florida court may grant a change of venue request if not doing so would prevent witnesses from appearing.
Florida law allows a spouse to request a change of venue if she believes, in good faith, that she will not receive a fair trial in the current venue. Florida's statutes require the respondent to file a change of venue motion within 10 days of the date the petitioner filed for divorce.
Denial of Motions
In Florida, a family court may deny the respondent's motion for a change of venue if insufficient evidence is shown to support that change. For example, if the respondent in a divorce case cannot produce evidence of hardship if the venue is not changed, the court may deny the motion. If a respondent files a motion for a change of venue and the petitioner challenges it, the petitioner must provide the family court with sufficient evidence as to why the divorce case should proceed where the case was originally filed.