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  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

What’s the Difference between Child Custody Jurisdiction and Child Custody Venue?

Clearly understanding the difference between “venue” and “jurisdiction” in Child Custody cases can be so tricky that even we lawyers can get confused if we’re not careful.

Think of it this way, Bryant-Denny or Jordan-Hare stadium, or even any regulation football field anywhere, can host a proper contest to see who the better american football team is that day. But, you can’t decide who has the better football team by lining up the two squads on a basketball court. That’s jurisdiction.

Now, whether it’s a football field in Tuscaloosa, Auburn or the friendly confines of Louis Crews Stadium, home of our Alabama A&M Bulldogs here in Huntsville, a football team from Alabama, Auburn, USC, Notre Dame or wherever can have a 100% functional football game that we all understand. It just makes a lot more sense to host the games where we do. That’s venue.

These issues get confused in Child Custody cases, especially, because everyone from the Judge on down the line is spending more time trying to do the “right” thing rather than the legal thing. Sadly, though, Child Custody orders have gotten turned over years later because nobody stopped at the beginning to wonder why everyone was playing horseshoes in a hockey rink, jurisdictionally speaking.


For the record, and to muddy the waters with official legal parlance, Judge Scott Donaldson of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently grabbed some great language for use in one of his opinions:

“ ‘Venue must be carefully distinguished from jurisdiction. Jurisdiction deals with the power of a court to hear and dispose of a given case…Venue is of a distinctly lower level of importance; it is simply a statutory device designed to facilitate and balance the objectives of optimum convenience for parties and witnesses and efficient allocation of judicial resources.’ Jack H. Friedenthal et al., Civil Procedure § 2.1 (3d ed. 1999) (footnote omitted).”


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

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