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Divorcing in Mississippi? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Getting a divorce is difficult, but it can help to be aware of Mississippi’s divorce laws. Knowing the state’s different laws for filing for divorce can prepare you for the process and help you understand the proper guidelines and conditions you might face during the process. In this guide from our Ridgeland family law attorneys, we explain the divorce requirements, spousal support, and child custody laws in Mississippi.

Requirements of Divorce

First off, it’s required that one spouse has been a resident of Mississippi for at least six months before they can file for divorce, and the court proceedings must take place in the county of the complainant.

There are two types of divorce that a spouse can file for in Mississippi, which are a no-fault or fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce means neither party is responsible for the marriage ending. However, in a fault-based divorce, a spouse can divorce their partner for legitimate legal reasons. These reasons are more commonly known in family law as “grounds for divorce.”

The different grounds for a fault-based divorce include:

  • Natural and incurable impotence: If one spouse cannot procreate, and nothing can change their circumstances, the other spouse may file for divorce against them.

  • Adultery: Adultery is a fairly common reason to end a marriage, and it means a spouse has been unfaithful to the other.

  • Desertion: This means the spouse abandons the other or leaves on their own accord. However, abandonment can still happen while the couple is living together if one spouse neglects their marital duties.

  • Insanity: Insanity falls under two different categories. The first is marrying your spouse without prior knowledge of their insanity, and the second is insanity developed after the marriage began.

  • Prison: A spouse being held in a correction facility for an extended amount of time is another ground for divorce since they are unable to meet their marital requirements.

  • Perpetual drug or alcohol use: Perpetual drug or alcohol use is another ground for divorce. It makes the spouse unable to perform marital duties. However, there must be proof of excessive consumption and that it has continued for a period of time.

  • Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment: Sadly, abuse is one of the most common grounds for divorce in Mississippi. Abuse goes against the married contract to honor and love your spouse, therefore, making it grounds for divorce.

  • Bigamy: This refers to when someone is married to multiple people. Only the offended party may file for divorce on these grounds. The spouse who is married to more than one person may not file for divorce because of bigamy.

  • Incest: In Mississippi, it is illegal to marry family relatives; thus, making incest is grounds for divorce.

  • A wife is pregnant by another person at the time of the marriage: If the wife gets pregnant by another person other than their partner during the marriage, it is grounds for a divorce.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also called alimony, is an allowance that one spouse receives from the other for financial assistance. Alimony is granted in cases where one spouse absolutely needs it to support themselves, and if the other spouse can pay it.

There are two types of spousal support in Mississippi: lump sum and periodic payment.

  • Lump sum alimony is a fixed amount of income that is paid in either one single payment or over a set time. The amount cannot be modified and is not affected by either spouse remarrying or if either spouse passes away.

  • A periodic payment can be modified and ends if either spouse passes away or if the receiving spouse gets remarried or cohabitates with a new partner.

In either case, the court will set a specific amount of alimony to be given to the receiving spouse. This amount should be about the same as what the receiving spouse was accustomed to during the marriage. Alimony for the receiving spouse should also be reasonable and still allow the paying spouse enough income to maintain a decent standard of living.

The court takes several factors into considering when determining how much spousal support should granted. This amount can depend on the following:

  • Each spouse’s health and earning capabilities

  • Sources of income for either party

  • Reasonable needs of the spouses and their children

  • Necessary living expenses for the spouses

  • Each party’s estimated income taxes

  • Any other relevant issues

Child Custody

One of the most important aspects for parents going through a divorce is child custody. To make decisions about custody matters, the court will prioritize their choice based on what is in the best interest of the child. In Mississippi, both parents have equal rights to their children. Therefore, the judge considers many factors when they make their decision.

Some factors that determine custody include:

  • The health and sex of the child

  • The primary caregiver before the divorce

  • Each party’s parenting skills and willingness to care for the child

  • The emotional ties between the child and the parent

  • Each parent’s moral fitness

  • Whether the child has siblings

  • The child’s age (if the child is 12-years-old or older, the child may state their preference)

There are two types of custody that can be awarded: physical and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child resides, and legal custody is the parent who can make decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and general wellbeing.

Both parents can have physical and legal custody. However, the court can decide that only one parent should have both types of custody. In this circumstance, the other parent is usually granted visitation rights as long as it is in the child’s best interest.

Let Us Fight For Your Family

We understand that filing for divorce is an emotional matter no matter what led to the decision, which is why at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we want to be there for you during this difficult time. You deserve the best during this time, and that is exactly what we offer. Our Madison County divorce lawyers are dedicated to fighting for our clients and their family’s rights to protect their best interests.

Contact us today at (601) 853-2223, and we will find the right attorney to represent you!

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