When you or your ex-spouse have an obligation to each other; child support, maintenance (formerly known as alimony) or reserved property distribution, you may have to enforce the terms of your Marital Settlement Agreement after the divorce is final. You may even have to modify your divorce agreement.
If one of you or neither of you no longer lives in Illinois or the Illinois county where your divorce was finalized, you may have the opportunity to move the case to a state or county that is more convenient and/or appropriate for you.
“If neither party continues to reside in the county wherein such judgment was entered or last modified, the court on the motion of either party or on its own motion may transfer a post-judgment proceeding, including a proceeding under the Income Withholding for Support Act, to another county or judicial circuit, as appropriate, where either party resides.” 750 ILCS 5/511(a)
Maintenance and child support cases always go to the county where the support recipient lives.
“If the post-judgment proceeding is with respect to maintenance or support, any such transfer shall be to the county or judicial circuit wherein the recipient or proposed recipient of such maintenance or support resides.” 750 ILCS 5/511(a)
“After 30 days from the entry of a judgment of dissolution of marriage or legal separation or the last modification thereof, any further proceedings to enforce or modify the judgment shall be as follows” 750 ILCS 5/512
If an ex-spouse no longer lives in Illinois, you can proceed in the original Illinois county that granted your divorce, where the judgment was last modified or in the jurisdiction where the person filing the motion lives today.
“If the respondent does not then reside within this State, further proceedings shall be had either in the judicial circuit wherein the moving party resides or where the judgment was entered or last modified.” 750 ILCS 5/512(a)
It is clearly more convenient for the out-of-state resident to prosecute their own motion to modify or enforce in their new home town without the fear of having to reappear in Illinois for repeated status calls or in-person evidentiary hearings.
If someone still lives in the county that granted your Illinois divorce or last modified your divorce judgment, the case should stay in that Illinois county. The court of that county can decide if a different county or state is more appropriate especially if the children no longer live in that county.
“If one or both of the parties then resides in the judicial circuit wherein the judgment was entered or last modified, further proceedings shall be had in the judicial circuit that last exercised jurisdiction in the matter; provided, however, that the court may in its discretion, transfer matters involving a change in the allocation of parental responsibility to the judicial circuit where the minor or dependent child resides.” 750 ILCS 5/512(b)
If no one lives in the Illinois county where the divorce was finalized or the judgment was last entered, the matter can proceed in the original Illinois county in the most appropriate location where either party lives. If the issues regarding enforcement or modification involve children, expect the case to be transferred to the county where the children live.
“If neither party then resides in the judicial circuit wherein the judgment was entered or last modified, further proceedings shall be had in that circuit or in the judicial circuit wherein either party resides; provided, however, that the court may, in its discretion, transfer matters involving a change in the allocation of parental responsibility to the judicial circuit where the minor or dependent child resides.” 750 ILCS 5/512(c)
Once you know where you can file, you can file your petition for enforcement or modification in the appropriate county while following the appropriate steps.
“In any post-judgment proceeding to enforce or modify in one judicial circuit the judgment of another judicial circuit of this State, the moving party shall commence the proceeding by filing a petition establishing the judgment and attaching a copy of the judgment as a part of the petition. The parties shall continue to be designated as in the original proceeding. Notice of the filing of the petition shall be mailed to the clerk of the court wherein the judgment was entered and last modified in the same manner as notice is mailed when registering a foreign judgment. Summons shall be served as provided by law.” 750 ILCS 5/511(b)
Whoever is filing the motion for enforcement or the motion for modification needs to file a motion to transfer venue pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/512. If the other party does not object, the venue transfer is automatically granted.
“Objection to venue is waived if not made within such time as the respondent’s answer is due.” 750 ILCS 5/512(d)
What If I Was Divorced In Another State And Want To Enforce Or Modify My Divorce Judgment In Illinois?
Divorce decrees from other states are considered “foreign judgments” in Illinois.
“”[F]oreign judgment” means any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in this State.” 735 ILCS 5/12-651
To enforce a foreign judgment in an Illinois court, the court must “enroll” or “register” the foreign judgment.
“In any post-judgment proceeding to enforce or modify the judgment of another state, the moving party shall commence the proceeding by filing a petition to enroll that judgment” 750 ILCS 5/511(c)
To register a foreign judgment in Illinois. “A copy of any foreign judgment authenticated in accordance with…the statutes of this State may be filed in the office of the circuit clerk for any county of this State.” 735 ILCS 5/12-652
Once the foreign judgment is registered in Illinois, it may be modified or enforced in Illinois like any other Illinois-based order.
“The clerk shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the circuit court for any county of this State.” 735 ILCS 5/12-652(a)
Some support things cannot be modified in the new state if there is “continuing and exclusive jurisdiction” of the old state.
“A tribunal of this State may not modify a spousal-support order issued by a tribunal of another state or a foreign country having continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over that order under the law of that state or foreign country.” 750 ILCS 22/211(b)
If the other state issued the maintenance (formerly known as alimony) order and that spouse still lives in that state…the modifying should return to that state to modify the maintenance…but it is not actually mandatory.
Modifying support is “rais[ing] a claim falling within the general class of cases the trial court had the inherent power to hear and decide. [An Illinois] trial court therefore had subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain [a modification of an out-of state support order] motion.” In re Marriage of Armstrong, 2016 IL App (2d) 150815
Likewise, divorce issues with children are governed by the laws of the state where the child has lived over the last 6 months.
“[T]his State is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this State but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this State” 750 ILCS 36/201(a)
“[A] court of this State which has made a child-custody determination…has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:(1) a court of this State determines that neither the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not have a significant connection with this State and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this State concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or(2) a court of this State or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this State.” 750 ILCS 36/202
Again, the parents and the child must no longer live in the state where the original custody agreement was entered. If the child lives in Illinois now, the case may be moved from the original state in that original state under the theory of the state is an inconvenient forum.
What If There Are Additional Parties To An Illinois Divorce? What About Their Jurisdiction?
Sometimes an Illinois divorce will have additional parties. An additional party to a divorce could be someone with an interest in some marital property of the parties; a grandparent who aggravates parenting time, an employer who doesn’t garnish child support, etc.
“The court may join additional parties necessary and proper for the exercise of its authority under this Act.” 750 ILCS 5/403(d)
These additional parties have zero impact on the jurisdiction of an Illinois divorce case.
“[N]ormal venue rules generally have no application where a third party has been added because the third party is added to a preexisting lawsuit.” In re Marriage of Seffren, 852 NE 2d 302 – Ill: Appellate Court, 1st Dist., 3rd Div. 2006
Picking the right county means picking the right judge…which makes all the difference. If you have the option to choose between different Illinois counties to enforce or modify your divorce decree you should weigh the options carefully with an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer.