Your divorce starts in whatever county court the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
If you and your spouse live in Naples, Florida, you will almost always be filing in the Collier County Courthouse.
If you’ve filed your divorce in Collier County or any other county, you are still welcome to file your case in another county and select between the two counties and then select between the counties you filed in.
If the other party objects to the case being heard in the county where the petition for dissolution is filed, they may file a motion for a change of venue. In a divorce case, the reason for a change of venue is almost always governed by the very broad Florida statute regarding convenience and justice.
“47.122 Change of venue; convenience of parties or witnesses or in the interest of justice.—For the convenience of the parties or witnesses or in the interest of justice, any court of record may transfer any civil action to any other court of record in which it might have been brought.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 47.122
This almost always means that one of the parties lives out of the county and can’t conveniently get to the county the divorce case is filed in. More typically, the children of the parties live in another county and it’s infeasible for the court to make accurate investigations into the best interests of the children if the children live hundreds of miles away.
Additionally, if there is property at stake in a divorce and the property is mostly located in another county then that, too, may be reason for a change of venue in a divorce case.
But, if you, your spouse, your kids and your house are in Collier County, your case will be filed and heard at the Collier County courthouse at 3315 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL. My office is a short 7 and a half mile drive from the courthouse. A map is below:
There are three different judges that hear family law matters at the Collier County courthouse. As of the date of this article’s publication they are the Honorable Scott H. Cupp, the Honorable Christine Greider and the Honorable Elizabeth V. Krier.
Three judges do not seem like a lot of people to handle all the divorces for 372,000 Collier County residents. The three judges are also aided by a series of magistrates who help guide parties through some of the less contested but more bureaucratic elements of a divorce.
Magistrates are only used if all parties consent. You have the right to have your case heard in front of a judge. Additionally, if a magistrate makes a decision regarding your case, you have the right to ask a judge to review that decision. This opportunity to have “two bites at the apple” is so tempting to the loser that parties with contested cases often forgo using a magistrate to hear contested matters.
The courthouse is also in the same location as many other government entities for Collier County like the Collier County Sheriff, the Juvenile Justice Department and The Health Department. The courthouse has very ample covered parking. The courthouse also has strict security. Expect to take your phone, wallet and keys out of your pockets and to take your belt off.
There are lots of places to eat nearby and the courthouse complex even has a little restaurant on premises if you’re stuck there all day.
If you’re considering filing for divorce or have a petition already filed in Collier County, Florida, contact my Naples, Florida Law Office for a free consultation to learn more about what to expect over the coming months.