A divorce is a legal end of marital ties, releasing both spouses from their matrimonial obligations. Following a divorce, both spouses will be legally single. Here are some answers to questions often asked by Mississippians about divorces.
How Can I Get a Divorce From My Spouse?
In Mississippi, there are two approaches in order to obtain a divorce. The first approach is known as a non-contested or a no-fault divorce. Mississippi defines it as a divorce based on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences," and it is available to spouses who have been Mississippi residents for at least six months. This procedure is generally used by spouses who can agree upon all issues of divorce. This means they agree that they want to dissolve the marriage and also agree concerning issues of child support, child custody, visitation, and property division. You can file a complaint for divorce in the Chancery court of the county in which either you or your spouse resides. After at least sixty (60) days from the filing date, the court will review your agreement. If it finds your agreement is adequate and sufficient, the agreement may be included in the judgment. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, the court may decide the issues upon which you cannot agree.
The second approach for obtaining a divorce in Mississippi is the fault-based divorce or "contested" divorce. In this case, the party who initiates the divorce must allege a legal reason for the divorce. In Mississippi there are eleven fault grounds:
- Natural impotency;
- Conviction and prison sentence;
- Desertion for one year;
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment;
- Insanity at the time of marriage;
- Preexisting marriage;
- Pregnancy at the time of marriage (where the groom was not the father);
- Incest; and
- Incurable Insanity.
It is important to note that the party who files for the divorce has the burden of proving his or her grounds for divorce. After the initial divorce complaint is filed, the accused spouse can file an Answer, admitting or denying the allegations. Prior to the court's final decision, the court may impose certain obligations on you and your spouse concerning property, finances, and children pending the final outcome of the divorce.
Under Mississippi law, you may also qualify for an annulment. It is important to know which process applies to you, if any, before beginning divorce proceedings.
What Should I Do Before I Make an Initial Appointment with My Attorney?
If possible, you can talk with your spouse and see if you can reach an agreement about any children, finances, and personal property items you share. If you and your spouse disagree or cannot talk prior to the meeting, you should be prepared to tell your attorney why it is that you want a divorce and bring to your appointment any information that will assist in proving your position. Sometimes it is a good idea to take a general inventory of major shared property and shared debts.
How Long Will It Take Before I Am Actually Divorced?
The time it takes for a divorce to be finalized in Mississippi depends on how much you and your spouse are able to agree and cooperate with one another. If you file a non-contested divorce, a Final Judgment of Divorce may be entered around 60 days after the initial complaint was filed. This is by far the quickest form of divorce. If your divorce is contested and a court must decide any or all issues, the time will be based on how long it takes to gather all the necessary facts, witnesses, documents, etc. It will also depend on the Court's calendar and docket. A contested divorce can drag on for months or even years.
Navigating Mississippi family law can be a challenge. You may find it helpful to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in Mississippi. For more general information on this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s divorce section.