Often times parties move during the course of their marriage, and at the time of the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, both parties may be residing in completely different locations, making it inconvenient for one party to attend court at the other party’s location. For such reasons, case law allows for the dismissal/transfer of a certain action in one location so that another location can proceed with the divorce.
Forum non conveniens is an “equitable doctrine founded in considerations of fundamental fairness and the sensible and effective administration of justice.” Langenhorst v. Norfolk Southern Ry. Co., 219 Ill.2d 430, 441, 302 Ill.Dec. 363, 848 N.E.2d 927 (2006). The doctrine permits a trial court to transfer a case when trial in another forum would better serve the ends of justice.
A trial court will engage in a balancing test, weighing public v. private factors in deciding a forum non conveniens motion. The private interest factors include: (1) the convenience of the parties; (2) the relative ease of access to sources of testimonial, documentary, and real evidence; and (3) all other practical problems that make trial of a case easy, expeditious and inexpensive. The public interest factors include: (1) the interest in deciding controversies locally; (2) the unfairness of imposing trial expense and the burden of jury duty on residents of a forum that has little connection to the litigation; and (3) the administrative difficulties presented by adding litigation to already congested court dockets.
As such, if the parties resided in one location for most of their marriage acquired marital assets in that location, and at least one of the parties still resides there, it is likely the judge will consider that location as the most convenient location.