Florida Divorce Law for Change of Venue

By Andrine Redsteer

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.

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Fair Trials

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.

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How to File a Petition to Have Divorce Moved to Another County in Florida


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Florida Divorce Law Grounds for Change of Venue

The decision of where to file for divorce may be based on convenience. In Florida, the filing spouse makes an initial election regarding which county to bring the action in, and the responding spouse is then provided a short period in which to object. Because it is possible for more than one county to meet the venue requirements, a Florida court must take into consideration the relative convenience and burdens imposed on all parties and witnesses in deciding whether to approve or deny a request for change of venue.

Does the Plaintiff Have to Show Up in a Divorce?

State laws regarding divorce often differ significantly. Further, rules on who must attend hearings vary based on the nature of the individual case. In some jurisdictions, the plaintiff, or party who is filing for divorce, does not need to attend the final hearing provided the couple agrees on the terms of the divorce. In other states, the plaintiff must attend but not his or her spouse. In some cases, both spouses must attend the final hearing.

Can a Judge Make You Sign Divorce Papers?

In days gone by, both spouses had to agree to a divorce in order to end a marriage, but that is no longer the case. Either spouse acting alone may pursue a divorce, and a court may grant that divorce without the consent of the other party. Therefore, a judge has no reason to force a party to sign divorce papers.

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