Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Divorce

What is the correct venue for a Florida divorce? According to Florida law, it is the county in which the parties last resided during the intact marriage. There is an important distinction between incorrect venue and inconvenient venue as stated in the case Knapp v. Knapp, 1D17-2869 (Fla. 1st DCA February 28, 2019).

In this case, the former wife appealed two issues: (1) the trial court’s denial of her motion to change venue to the county in which she resided and (2) the crediting of 120 overnights to the former husband for purposes of calculating child support when his testimony indicated he could spend no more than 30 overnights per year with the parties’ children due to being active duty military.

On the first issue, the appellate court disagreed with the former wife. The court held “First, we find that the trial court did not err in rejecting the former wife's venue argument. Before the final hearing, the former wife alleged that she and her children lived in St. Lucie County and that the former husband did not live in Bradford County. But the fact that neither of the parties resided in Bradford County was not, in itself, a basis to rule that venue was improper there.” Finding the former wife did not preserve the issue of venue for appellate review because she never argued to the trial court that venue was improper, the court further held, “Asking the court to transfer the case to St. Lucie County because she lived there and it would have been more convenient for her was not the same as arguing that Bradford County was the improper venue for this action. The court ruled on the argument before it, which was insufficient to change venue. It was not obligated to schedule a hearing on the improper motion to allow the former wife the chance to change the argument to something that may have been proper.”

As to child support, the record showed the former husband was only allowed 30 days of leave per year from the military. Despite this, the trial court based the Florida child support guidelines on the former husband having 120 overnights per year with the parties’ children. In reversing this ruling, the appellate court held, “The former wife argues that basing child support on the former husband spending 120 overnights with the children is unsupported by his testimony, as well as the final judgment's timesharing provisions. We agree. It is possible the former husband may spend more than thirty overnights with the children, but no evidence supports a number four times his guaranteed leave. The trial court must correct the husband's child support obligation by using a timesharing figure supported by competent, substantial evidence.”

If you are unsure where to file your Florida divorce case, start with a consultation with a Miami family law attorney. You can also discuss issues related to your case such as child support, child custody and more.