Mississippi Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorce in Mississippi
One of the spouses must have been a resident for at least six 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:
- The county where either spouse resides, if both spouses are residents of Mississippi or
- The county where one spouse resides if the other spouse is a non-resident of Mississippi.
- A divorce sought on fault-based grounds should be filed for in:
- The county where the defendant resides if he or she is a resident of Mississippi;
- The county where the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non-resident of Mississippi; or
- The county where the spouses last lived prior to separating, if the defendant is still a resident of Mississippi. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapters 5-5 and 5-11].
Reasons for Divorce in Mississippi
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in Mississippi those are fault and general. In order to file for divorce in Mississippi, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault reasons for divorce in Mississippi include:
- Irreconcilable differences. See also below under Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapters 5-1, 5-2, and 5-7].
General reasons for divorce in Mississippi include:
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Confinement for incurable insanity for at least three years before the divorce is filed;
- Wife is pregnant by another at the time of marriage without husband’s knowledge;
- Willful desertion for at least one year;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment;
- Spouse lacked mental capacity to consent [including temporary incapacity resulting from drug or alcohol use]; and
In addition, an affidavit must be filed stating that there is no collusion between the spouses. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapters 5-1 and 5-7].
Custody of the Children in Mississippi
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. It is presumed that a court will not award custody to a parent with a history of family violence. The court may award:
- Joint physical and legal custody to one or both parents;
- Physical custody to both parents and legal custody to one parent;
- Legal custody to both parents and physical custody to one parent; or
- 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. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapters 5-23, 5-24, and 11-65].
Property Distribution in Mississippi
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. A 1994 case (Ferguson v. Ferguson) spelled out a set of factors for the equitable division of marital property:
- A spouse’s substantial contribution to the accumulation of property;
- The degree to which a spouse has previously expended or disposed of any marital property;
- The market and emotional value of the property in question;
- The value of any non-marital or separate property;
- The tax consequences of the division of property;
- The extent to which property division may eliminate the need for alimony or any other future friction between the parties;
- The needs of the party, considering income, assets, and earning capacity; and
- Any other equitable factors. [Mississippi Case Law].
Mississippi Spousal Support Guidelines
Either spouse may be awarded maintenance if it is equitable and just. There are no other factors for consideration specified in the statute. However, a 1996 case (Parsons v. Parsons) spelled out a set of factors for consideration:
- The spouses’ income and expenses;
- The spouses’ health and earnings;
- The spouses’ needs, obligations, and assets;
- The presence of any children;
- The spouses’ ages;
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- Any tax consequences;
- Any marital fault;
- Any wasteful dissipation of assets; and
- Any other just and equitable factors. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapter 5-23 and Mississippi Case Law].
Mississippi Child Support Guidelines
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. [Mississippi Code Annotated; Section 93, Chapters 5-23 and 11-65 and Section 99, Chapter 19-101].
There is no legal provision for mediation in Mississippi.