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Mississippi Divorce FAQ

Deciding that you want to file for divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. You must understand Mississippi divorce laws before you begin the divorce process. If you’ve ever had to deal with the family courts in Mississippi, you know they can be challenging to navigate.

Here, we’ll answer some of the questions you may have for your Mississippi divorce lawyer. We’ll also discuss how the divorce process works in Mississippi.

How do I qualify for divorce in Mississippi?

Any married couple can file for divorce in Mississippi. If one spouse has lived in-state for at least six months, the court will accept their divorce petition. This is because Mississippi state law requires that the parties meet a residency requirement.

The filing spouse must also choose between a no-fault divorce and a fault-based divorce. If they file a fault-based divorce, they must cite a ground for divorce in their complaint.

As with any other type of court action, you must also pay the requisite filing fees. It costs $148 to file for a no-fault divorce and $158 for a fault-based divorce. Filing fees are subject to change, so be sure to check with the clerk's office of the county where you are filing to get the most up-to-date fees.

Is there a mandatory waiting period in Mississippi?

There is a 60-day waiting period in Mississippi. After filing for a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences, the court may not take any action for 60 days. During that time, you may submit an agreement if you have resolved the issues.

After 60 days, the court will review your settlement agreement. If the judge determines that your agreement is adequate, they’ll include it in the final divorce judgment.

If you have not resolved property and other issues, the court will schedule a hearing after the 60 days have passed. Both parties are required to agree on what issues the court will be asked to resolve.

If you file a fault-based divorce, there is no mandatory waiting period. Your spouse has 30 days in which to file a response to your petition. After that period of time has passed, hearings may be scheduled for the court to determine if the fault grounds have been proven and to make other orders resolving property, custody, and support issues. The responding spouse must have 30 days advance notice of a hearing.

Can I get a no-fault divorce in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, there are two types of divorce. The first approach is an uncontested divorce, also referred to as a no-fault divorce. Mississippi law defines a no-fault divorce as one where the spouses have "irreconcilable differences.”

This type of divorce is available to spouses who agree to divorce based on this basis. They do not have to agree on all terms of their divorce but they do have to agree to ask the court to rule on any contested issues such as custody, support, or property division.

If child custody, visitation rights, and support are not agreed to, the court will consider relevant evidence and apply the child support guidelines to determine the amount of support. Ultimately, the best interests of the child must guide the court's decision.

Where do I file for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences?

You can file a complaint for divorce in the Chancery court of the county in which either you or your spouse resides if you both are residents of the state. If the other party is not a resident of the state, you will file in the county in which you live.

How do I get a fault-based divorce?

The second type of divorce in Mississippi is a fault-based divorce or contested divorce. In this type of case, the party filing for divorce must cite a reason for the divorce.

In Mississippi, there are twelve grounds for divorce:

  • Natural impotence
  • Adultery
  • Conviction and prison sentence
  • Desertion for one year
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Drug abuse
  • Cruelty
  • Mental disability or illness that the other spouse was not aware of at the time of marriage
  • Preexisting marriage
  • Pregnancy by someone other than the husband that the spouse was not aware of at the time of marriage
  • Kinship with the spouse that prohibits marriage by law
  • Mental illness that has been deemed incurable

You must cite the grounds for divorce in your divorce petition. You will then have to prove your fault-based grounds for divorce.

Once you file your complaint, your spouse can file a response. In their answer, they can admit or deny the allegations.

Under Mississippi law, you may also qualify for an annulment. It is essential to know which process may apply to your situation, if any, before beginning divorce proceedings. In some cases, you may be able to pursue either an annulment or divorce.

Where do I file for a divorce based on fault grounds?

You can file a complaint for a fault-based divorce in the Chancery court of the county in which you reside if your spouse is not a resident of the state. If your spouse is a resident of the state, you may file in the county where you reside or the county where you and your spouse last resided together, but only if you still reside in that county.

Will I receive alimony in Mississippi?

You can demand alimony in your divorce papers. Just because you ask for it doesn’t mean the court will grant it. The court will consider many factors to determine whether alimony should be ordered.

There are two types of alimony in Mississippi. The first type is a lump sum payment. This allows you and your spouse to cut ties once the divorce is final. You can't modify the amount if you receive or pay a lump sum. In addition, your spouse cannot demand that you pay any amount of the money back if you remarry.

The second type of alimony is periodic alimony. Usually, one spouse will agree to pay the other spouse a specific amount of money every month. Periodic alimony terminates if the receiving spouse dies, remarries, or cohabitates with another partner.

Who gets custody of our minor children?

In most divorce cases, the parties agree on child custody. It may take a while for your attorney to negotiate a custody arrangement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s lawyer. If you can’t agree, the judge will determine child custody.

When deciding custody, the courts will consider the following factors:

  • Age and health of the children
  • Mental and physical health of the parent
  • The gender of the children
  • Whether there are siblings
  • The party’s willingness and ability to parent
  • Which parent was the primary caretaker during the marriage
  • Work schedules and living arrangements
  • Child’s preference, if age 12 or older
  • Emotional ties between the parent and children

You’re always better off deciding on a custody and parenting plan with the other party. Once you put it into the hands of a judge, there’s much less certainty as to the custody and visitation arrangement that they’ll come up with.

How much child support will I receive after the divorce?

If you are a custodial parent, you will likely receive child support. The courts use Mississippi State Child Support Guidelines to determine how much you’ll receive. The child support guidelines consider the non-custodial parent's monthly income in arriving at the amount.

The court has the ability to deviate from the amount determined by the guidelines. To do so, the judge will consider the following when ordering child support that is either above or below the guideline amount:

  • Seasonal variations of a parent's income
  • Age of child(ren) considering there are often additional expenses for older children
  • The division of parenting time
  • Childcare and educational expenses
  • Income received by the child
  • Total assets and available resources of the child and parents

In almost all divorce cases, the parties’ attorneys rely on the guidelines to determine child support. The courts only consider if the support is sufficient for the children.

The way the court sees it, the children shouldn’t eat steak at one parent’s house and macaroni and cheese at the other. There needs to be a relatively equal division of expenses and support between the parents.

What happens during the equitable distribution of our marital property?

Ideally, your divorce lawyer can negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney. Your attorney will list your marital debts and assets and hire an appraiser to determine the value of your assets.

Next, your attorney will ask you which assets you want to keep and which you’re willing to sell or give to your spouse. From this point, they’ll negotiate back and forth with your spouse’s attorney to come to terms.

If you cannot agree on the division of property, the judge may order you to attend mediation. An impartial third party will assist the parties in reaching a compromise. If mediation is unsuccessful, you will have the option to go to trial.

How long do most divorce cases take in Mississippi?

Every divorce is different. It may take one couple only a few months to finalize a divorce, while for another couple it might last more than a year. It depends on several things. For example, a no-fault divorce is often resolved much quicker than a fault-based divorce.

Some of the factors that impact how long your divorce will take include:

  • Whether you have minor or dependent children
  • The amount and value of marital assets and liabilities
  • Whether there is real property (marital residence or other real estate) to divide
  • Whether you and your spouse agree on most (or any) terms
  • How busy the court docket is

The best way to answer this question is that it depends on the legal issues you and your spouse agree on. For example, if you agree on property division and alimony, it won’t take more than a few months to finalize your divorce.

Should I seek legal advice before filing for divorce?

It's important to speak with an experienced Mississippi divorce attorney before filing for divorce. You'll have to pay for their legal services, but having a legal professional by your side will give you a much better chance of a positive outcome.

Your attorney will represent you at all the hearings, answer all of your questions, and ensure that your spouse’s lawyer doesn’t take advantage of you.

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