There are several pieces to the divorce puzzle. In this article, we will discuss venue and judicial circuits and how it impacts where you file for divorce. Remember, it is always a good idea to have an attorney to represent you during a divorce or family law matter.
Venue is a legal term used to describe the place that an event is to take place. Where you currently live, where the other spouse lives and where the marital domicile was located all come in to play when determining venue for a divorce case. Once you determine the correct court to file for divorce, it is referred to as “venue is proper”. First, in order to file for divorce in the State of Georgia, you OR your spouse must have lived in the state for the previous six (6) months – military families have some exceptions. Second, you should generally file for divorce in the County that the other spouse resides. . In domestic cases there is an exception that will allow you to file for divorce in the county where the marital residence is located if you have been separated less than six (6) months. In the event that the spouse has moved out of state, you may file for a divorce in the County which you lived during your marriage (marital domicile). What if you do not know where the other spouse lives, works or where he/she can be served with a copy of the divorce request, what now? You definitely want to seek advice from an attorney in this instance. The Court requires the Plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) complete several steps to show a diligent effort to contact the other spouse.
A judicial circuit is simply a particular number of counties that use the same judges. The judges travel within a specific area to hear cases in this given “territory”. For example, Coweta County is in the Coweta Judicial Circuit. The circuit is composed of five counties: Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Meriwether, and Troup. There are seven Superior Court judges serving in the Coweta Judicial Circuit: Chief Judge A. Quillian Baldwin, Jr.; Judge John Simpson; Judge Dennis Blackmon; Judge Jack Kirby; Judge Emory Palmer and Judge Travis Sakrison.
How do venue and judicial circuits tie together? Once you have determined the Superior Court (venue) in which you need to file your paperwork, your case will be assigned to a Judge in the judicial circuit of that County. As we noted above, a judicial circuit may cover several counties. You can then request that your case be placed on the calendar of the assigned Judge the day that he/she is hearing cases in that particular county. For example, you cannot have a case filed in Coweta County and have a court hearing in Carroll County, even though your assigned Judge is hearing cases that day. Although, the Judges serve several counties, your case will most always be kept in the county where venue is proper. There are exceptions to every rule but this can only be changed by agreement of the parties and an order of the Judge.
Please remember, this article is merely meant for guidance and information purposes. It is NOT intended as legal advice nor does it establish attorney/client relationship or privilege.