Divorce Law Mississippi

DIVORCE LAWS OF MISSISSIPPI

The law relating to divorce in the state of Mississippi is governed by title 93 of the Mississippi Code._______.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS

One of the spouses must have been a resident for at least 6 months and not have secured residency for the purpose of obtaining a divorce. A member of the armed services and his or her spouse are considered residents if stationed in Mississippi.

A divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences should be filed for in:

  1. the county where either spouse resides, if both spouses are residents of Mississippi or
  2. the county where 1 spouse resides if the other spouse is a non-resident of Mississippi.

A divorce sought on fault-based grounds should be filed for in:

  1. the county where the defendant resides if he or she is a resident of Mississippi;
  2. the county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non-resident of Mississippi; or
  3. the county where the spouses last lived prior to separating, if the defendant is still a resident of Mississippi.

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Divorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for any one or more of the following twelve causes, viz:

  1. Natural impotency
  2. Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.
  3. Being sentenced to any penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there
  4. Wilful, continued and obstinate desertion for the space of one year.
  5. Habitual drunkenness.
  6. Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drug.
  7. Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.
  8. Insanity or idiocy at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of such infirmity
  9. Marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties
  10. Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of such pregnancy
  11. Either party may have a divorce if they be related to each other within the degrees of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.
  12. Incurable insanity.

However, in the discretion of the chancery court, and in such cases as the court may deem it necessary and proper, before any such decree is granted on the ground of incurable insanity, the complainant, when ordered by the court, shall enter into bond, to be approved by the court, in such an amount as the court may think just and proper, conditioned for the care and keeping of such insane person during the remainder of his or her natural life, unless such insane person has a sufficient estate in his or her own right for such purpose.

DIVORCE PROCEDURE

A no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences will be granted if:

  1. a joint bill of complaint for divorce is filed by both the husband and wife or
  2. a bill of complaint has been filed and:
    1. the defendant has entered an appearance by written waiver of process or
    2. has been personally served with the divorce papers.

In addition, if there is a written agreement between the spouses for the care and custody of any children and for the division of all property, the court may incorporate such an agreement into the divorce judgment. If the spouses cannot agree on the terms of an agreement, they must consent to the divorce in writing and consent to allow the court to decide all contested issues.

There is a 60-day waiting period after filing before a hearing may be scheduled. A bill filed meeting these qualifications will be taken as proved and no testimony or proof will be required at the hearing. However, if the defendant denies that there are irreconcilable differences, the divorce may not be granted on these grounds.

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION

Mississippi is a "title" state. Each spouse retains his or her property for which they have title. There are no statutory provisions in Mississippi for considerations regarding property division. However, Mississippi has judicially adopted the "equitable division" systems of property division. Recent court decisions have allowed for a wife's contributions to the acquisition of assets to provide the court with authority to divide any jointly accumulated assets on an "equitable" basis.

The equitable division of marital property:

  1. a spouse's substantial contribution to the accumulation of property;
  2. the degree to which a spouse has previously expended or disposed of any marital property;
  3. the market and emotional value of the property in question;
  4. the value of any non-marital or separate property;
  5. the tax consequences of the division of property;
  6. the extent to which property division may eliminate the need for alimony or any other future friction between the parties;
  7. the needs of the party, considering income, assets, and earning capacity; and
  8. any other equitable factors.

ALIMONY/SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Either spouse may be awarded maintenance if it is equitable and just. There are no other factors for consideration specified in the statute. The factors to be considered before awarding alimony/ spousal support:

  1. the spouses' income and expenses;
  2. the spouses' health and earnings;
  3. the spouses' needs, obligations, and assets;
  4. the presence of any children;
  5. the spouses' ages;
  6. the standard of living during the marriage;
  7. any tax consequences;
  8. any marital fault;
  9. any wasteful dissipation of assets; and
  10. any other just and equitable factors.

CHILD CUSTODY

Joint or sole child custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child. There are no specific factors for consideration in the statute. The court may award:

  1. joint physical and legal custody to 1 or both parents;
  2. physical custody to both parents and legal custody to 1 parent;
  3. legal custody to both parents and physical custody to 1 parent; or
  4. custody to a third party if the parents have abandoned the child or are unfit.

If irreconcilable differences are the grounds for divorce, joint custody may be awarded if both parents apply for joint custody. If both parents apply for joint custody, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child. Otherwise, either parent may apply for joint custody. If both parents are fit and the child is 12 or older, the child may choose the parent he or she wishes to live with.

If child abuse is alleged by either parent, the court shall order an investigation by the Mississippi Department of Public Welfare.

CHILD SUPPORT

Child support may be ordered as the court finds just and equitable. Where both parents have income or estates, each parent may be ordered to provide support in proportion to his or her relative financial ability.

A parent may be required to provide health insurance coverage for the child, if such insurance coverage is available at a reasonable cost through an employer or organization. A bond or sureties may be required to guarantee payments. There are specific child support guidelines contained in the statute.