She filed our separation agreement in Norfolk hoping to push it through. But I'm contesting it. She lives in Suffolk, and I live in Chesapeake. What happens if we get tossed out of Norfolk? Does the process start over again?
Venue for a divorce is the last place of cohabitation, i.e. holding yourselves out as husband and wife and carrying on a marital relationship. Venue is preferred venue and not permissive venue in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Venue may be waived if not brought up promptly by the defendant, meaning even if filed in a Court that is not the preferred venue the case may go forward.
If an objection to venue is filed or the Court determines that it is not the proper venue, then the Court may transfer venue to any court in the Commonwealth of Virginia which is a proper venue. Only if no court in the Commonwealth of Virginia may exercise venue and/or jurisdiction then the Court will dismiss the suit.
Knowingly filing in an improper venue most likely will raise issues concerning the award of attorney's fees, allowed by statute, for improperly laying venue.
So short answer, unlikely.
I provide this information in general terms for information purposes only and as a courtesy. Neither I nor my firm are your lawyers until you sign a legal retainer agreement and pay us an advanced legal fee.
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
If the case is found to have a more appropriate venue elsewhere, the court can transfer it to the new city. Norfolk is a popular venue for filing divorces; however, the court has started transferring venue in cases on its own motion. This can cause some delay if it happens. You are better off not to raise the issue if you want the divorce to go smoothly.
This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.
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As previously relayed above, the answer is that it depends on where the appropriate venue lies. Pursuant to the Virginia code, preferred venue is either where you and your spouse last cohabitated, or at the option of the filing spouse (complainant), where the defendant resides. If you believe that venue is inappropriate in the city of Norfolk, I would advise speaking to a local attorney about filing a motion to transfer. If you are merely contesting the venue and not the divorce itself as you have already signed a separation agreement settling the issues, you will only have to attend the final hearing at your discretion as it will move forward as an uncontested divorce requiring the presence of only your spouse and her witness.
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