Attorney Wendy Divozzo explains the difference between jursidiction and venue in divorce cases.

The law has long been that a divorce case may be filed in the county where the plaintiff resides if either the plaintiff or defendant has resided in the state for at least 180 days and the county for at least 10 days. It has been a widespread practice in the family bar and still is to file in the county where the plaintiff resides if the plaintiff meets these legal requirements. The statute that applies is MCL 552.9. This is not a problem when both parties reside in the same county but that is not always the situation.
For example, often when people separate one party will move “back home” to reside near their family in another part of the state. When this happens the choice of what county a case is filed in can have significant ramifications when it comes to convenience of the parties for court appearances, cost to hire an attorney to make court appearances, distance of travel to and from court, location of property and other assets involved in the divorce case, location of the parties’ children and where they go to school, etc.
MCL 552.9 deals with jurisdiction of the court which is the power of a court to enter a judgment granting a divorce. Venue deals with the idea of convenience as to where a case is tried. The general venue statute is MCL 600.1621. MCL 600.1621 states that a case must be filed in the county where the defendant resides (if the parties do not reside in the same county).
In 1986 the Michigan Supreme Court decided a case known as the Stamadianos case, that says that MCL 552.9 is a jurisdictional statute, not a venue statute. Essentially Stamadianos says that MCL 552.9 deals with the power of the court to enter a judgment of divorce but not location or which court the case should be filed in.
In that case, the plaintiff never met the statutory requirements of 552.9 to begin with so the holding of that case was largely ignored and family law attorneys continued to file cases in the county of residence of the plaintiff for the past 20 years. The family law bar continued to basically ignore Stamadianos until 2015 when a case known a Funk v. Funk was decided. However, Funk v. Funk was not a published case, which means that family law judges do not have to follow this case as precedential and can ignore it when deciding challenges to venue and allow the case to continue
While Funk has no precedential value and judges are not required to follow it, they can also choose to follow this case. What this means is that the practice of filing for divorce in the county where a plaintiff resides such as it has been for many, many years now appears to be at odds with the current state of the law. In practical terms parties filing for divorce may begin to see challenges to their choice of county in which they file for divorce.
If you are planning to file for divorce and do not reside in the same county as your spouse you may need the advice of an attorney to assist you with making the decision as to where to file your case.