How to File Divorce in Mississippi

How to File Divorce in Mississippi

It can be hard to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I, but if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of needing a divorce getting one in Mississippi does not have to be difficult.  

Grounds for divorce in Mississippi

Up until just a few decades ago, the only way to get divorced in America was to prove that your spouse did something wrong.  This was called “fault” divorce.

Today, every state allows people to get divorced on “no-fault” grounds. That means that the spouses simply want to split up and go their separate ways.  

Mississippi has retained its fault grounds for divorce, even though it also now has no-fault grounds as well.

Fault grounds include natural impotence, adultery, imprisonment, desertion, habitual drunkenness, excessive use of opium, cruel and inhumane treatment, mental illness, bigamy, pregnancy of the wife by another person, incest, an incurable mental illness.

Most people will seek divorce on no-fault grounds

Most people will seek divorce on no-fault grounds, though.

In Mississippi, that is called “irreconcilable differences.”  That basically just means that the couple would like to go their separate ways.  In Mississippi, both spouses must agree that the marriage is dead. If one spouse denies that there are irreconcilable differences than the divorce cannot be granted on that basis.  

Timelines involved

Divorce can only be granted by a Mississippi court when one spouse has lived in the state for six months before the divorce was filed.  A divorce complaint on the ground of irreconcilable differences cannot be heard by a judge until 60 days after it was filed.  

Issues resolved

The courts must decide issues related to the custody and maintenance of any children of the marriage as well as settle the division of property rights between the spouses.  If the couple can provide a written agreement to the court on these issues, then the judge can simply review and approve it.

If the couple cannot agree on these issues then they must ask the judge to rule on whatever issues they could not resolve on their own.

Mississippi divides up property according to equitable distribution principles

This means that the judge will look at how much money the couple has, and then decide how it should be divided up fairly.

Each spouse will keep the money they came into the marriage with, along with anything they get by gift or inheritance. The rest is up for division. The judge has to consider how well each spouse will be able to support him or herself, but most often the property is divided up evenly.  

The court may also make orders related to the care, custody, and maintenance of the children of the marriage.  

The judge must do what they think is in the best interest of the child

Mississippi tries to get the parents to mutually agree on custody issues, but if they do not agree then the judge must do what they think is in the best interest of the child.

The judge will consider factors like the child’s age, primary caregiver, parenting skills, willingness to parent, moral fitness, immoral conduct, and emotional ties.

This is where some “fault” issues can come into play.  Abuse will be a fast track to losing custody rights, for example.

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