What is venue and why is it so important? Quite simply, venue is the physical location of the court where a domestic matter will be resided over. In Ohio, there are 88 counties and each one of these counties has its own court of common pleas domestic division that can be a potential venue for a domestic matter. So what determines venue? Venue in Ohio is closely tied to jurisdiction which is a court’s legal right to pass judgment over the parties in a case. In Ohio, jurisdiction can be the county in which either the plaintiff / petitioner OR the defendant / respondent has resided in the state for at least six months and the county for at least 90 days.
Generally, the plaintiff or petitioner in a domestic matter determines the initial venue. This is where the importance of venue comes into play. Imagine a scenario where a married couple plans on terminating their marriage. The spouses have physically separated and one continues to live in Ohio in the primary residence and the other spouse moves to Kentucky and has lived there for six months. Either spouse has the potential to determine the venue once they file for divorce. If spouse one who lives in Ohio files, then venue will be appropriate in the county where he or she resides. Spouse two will receive notice of all pleadings, motions or hearings, however, they may be physically required to travel from Kentucky to Ohio just to attend a hearing or deal with various legal matters. The proximity factor of venue can actually work as a legal weapon for one party in a domestic legal battle.
The other important issue to consider with respect to venue is when minor children are involved in a domestic case and the issue of custody comes into play. It is unrealistic to think that minor children should be forced to constantly travel state to state or county to county for joint custody. This is not in the best interest of the children and the court wherever venue has been established will take this issue into consideration when determining custody matters. So back to the idea of venue proximity being a legal weapon. If custody has to be established in one location or another, and venue proximity prevents one party from successfully being able to plead their side of a domestic battle, the party with the established venue has the major advantage.