Family Law Case Review: Trial Court Denies Transfer to “Preferred Venue”

Case: Joan Strozewski v. James Strozewski
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: In a dissolution matter, the Petitioner’s satisfaction of the statutory requirement to have lived in Indiana for six months, and in the county of filing for three months, establishes, without more, the preferred venue of that county, and a change of venue to another county of preferred venue is not permitted.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Husband and Wife married in 1970. In 2014, Husband filed a petition for dissolution in Hamilton County. At the time of filing, Husband had been a lifelong resident of Indiana, and had lived in Hamilton county for at least three months. However, Wife lived in St. Joseph County and the marital residence was located in St. Joseph County.

Wife moved to transfer the matter to the “preferred venue” of St. Joseph County. The trial court denied the motion, from which Wife filed an interlocutory appeal.

The Court of Appeals reviewed Trial Rule 75 and the concept of “preferred venue.” In a given case, preferred venue can exist in more than county. However, once a matter is in a preferred venue county, there is no basis in Trial Rule 75 to transfer the case to another preferred venue county.

Under the divorce statutes and Trial Rule 75(A)(8), Husband’s satisfaction of the residential jurisdictional requirements for Indiana and Hamilton County, without more, conferred preferred venue upon Hamilton County. The fact that St. Joseph County might also be a site of preferred venue is not relevant. “[I]f an action is filed in a county of preferred venue, change of venue cannot be granted.”

The trial court’s order denying Wife’s motion to transfer venue to St. Joseph County was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Joan Strozewski v. James Strozewski

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James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

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