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:
- The county where either spouse resides, if both spouses are residents of Mississippi.
- 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:
- 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.
- The county where the spouses last lived prior to separating, if the defendant is still a resident of Mississippi.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
No Fault Divorce:
- Irreconcilable differences.
- Alcoholism or drug addiction.
- Confinement for incurable insanity for at least 3 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 1 year.
- Cruel and inhuman treatment.
- Spouse lacked mental capacity to consent.
In addition, an affidavit must be filed stating that there is no collusion between the spouses.
Legal Separation in Mississippi:
There are no provisions in Mississippi for legal separation.
Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Mississippi
A no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences will be granted if:
- A joint bill of complaint for divorce is filed by both the husband and wife.
A bill of complaint has been filed and:
- The defendant has entered an appearance by written waiver of process
- 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.
Alimony/Spousal Support Mississippi:
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
- Any other just and equitable factors
State law defines two types of alimony:
- Periodic alimony: Provides the receiving spouse with income for an indefinite period of time, ceases upon the remarriage or co-habitation of the receiving spouse or the death of either spouse, and is subject to modification; and
- Lump sum alimony: A fixed and final dollar amount meant to equalize the financial situation between the parties, may be payable in a single payment or fixed periodic installments over a period of time, and may not be modified, nor does the death or remarriage of either spouse affect it.
Courts may also award Rehabilitative Alimony, which allows one spouse to receive support from the other spouse for a fixed, definite time period, for the purpose of allowing the receiving spouse to become self-supporting without becoming destitute.
Child Custody 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. The court may award:
- Joint physical and legal custody to 1 or both parents
- Physical custody to both parents and legal custody to 1 parent
- Legal custody to both parents and physical custody to 1 parent
- 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 in Mississippi:
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.
Whenever the court has ordered child support, but no bond, sureties or other guarantee has been required to secure the payments, and the support payments remain unpaid for a period of at least thirty (30) days, the court may, upon petition of the receiving parent, enter an order requiring that bond, sureties or other security be given by the paying parent, the amount and sufficiency of which shall be approved by the court. The obligor shall, as in other civil actions, be served with process and shall be entitled to a hearing in such case.
The duty of support of a child terminates upon the child’s emancipation, which occurs when the child does one of the following:
- Reaches the age of 21 years.
- Joins the military and serves on a full-time basis.
- Is convicted of a felony and is sentenced to incarceration of two or more years for committing the felony.
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 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.
- Any other equitable factors.
Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.