Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi
If you are considering filing for divorce in Mississippi it is important to understand the various grounds for divorce that are recognized by our state. This article provides a brief overview of the legal grounds for divorce that are permitted in Mississippi, however, keep in mind that every marriage, and every divorce, are unique so it is important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss the details of your particular case.
Legal Grounds For Divorce in Mississippi
Mississippi is one of the few states that still technically requires fault-grounds for divorce. I say technically because while our state does not recognize “no fault” divorce, a married couple can obtain a “divorce by consent” by stating that they have irreconcilable differences. A divorce by consent can generally be obtained if both members of the couple wish to end their marriages. However, if only one spouse wants to obtain a divorce, that spouse must site to one of the 12 permissible grounds for divorce recognized in Mississippi. The Mississippi Bar’s website notes that Mississippi’s family law currently recognizes the following legal grounds for divorce:
- Desertion: Desertion occurs when a spouse willfully abandons their marriage for at least one year without just cause, consent, excuse, or the intent to return. The deserted spouse must show that they did not consent to their spouse leaving.
- Natural Impotency: In order for natural impotency to qualify as grounds for divorce in Mississippi the innocent spouse must not have known about their spouse’s impotency before they got married.
- Insanity or Idiocy: A spouse may sue for divorce if they did not know of their spouse’s insanity or idiocy prior to the marriage.
- Wife’s Pregnancy by Another Person: If a spouse learns that their wife was pregnant by another person at the time of their marriage, and the spouse was not aware of the pregnancy before the marriage, that spouse has grounds for divorce in Mississippi.
- Adultery: Under Mississippi law, adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse on the part of either spouse with a person other than his or her own spouse.
- Imprisonment: In Mississippi an individual can file for divorce if their spouse is in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
- Incurable Insanity that Develops After Marriage: If your spouse’s insanity developed after your marriage you have grounds for divorce if you can provide medical proof of the insanity and when it developed.
- Habitual Drunkenness: An innocent spouse has grounds for divorce if they can provide clear and convincing evidence that their spouse is a habitual drunk and that this conduct has rendered him or her reckless, irresponsible, unfit, and unable to perform their marital duties and responsibilities.
- Habitual and Excessive Drug Use: An innocent spouse has grounds for divorce in Mississippi if they can show that their spouse is a habitual and excessive drug user and that this conduct has rendered him or her reckless, irresponsible, unfit, and unable to perform their marital duties and responsibilities.
- Habitual Cruel and Inhuman Treatment: Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment is defined in Mississippi as conduct that endangers your spouse’s life, limb, or health, or causes them reasonable apprehension of such a danger. There are also grounds for divorce if a spouse engages in unnatural or infamous conduct that makes the marriage revolting to the innocent spouse.
- Bigamy: You can file for divorce in Mississippi on the grounds of bigamy if your spouse is married to more than one person.
- Incest: Marriages between certain family members are considered incestuous and void in Mississippi.
Domestic Violence May Soon Qualify as Legal Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi
You may have noticed that domestic violence is not listed above as a grounds for divorce in Mississippi. This is because our state does not currently recognize domestic abuse as legal grounds for divorce. However, according to an article in the Jackson Free Press, domestic abuse may soon be added to the list. The article notes that there is proposed bill aimed at making domestic abuse, established by clear and convincing evidence, the 13th ground for divorce in Mississippi. Proponents of the bill point out that under the current law spouses who suffer from domestic abuse can file for divorce under the “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” ground, however, they argue that the word habitual is problematic as it leaves out victims who have been abused but not habitually. Under the proposed bill, a single act of domestic abuse would be sufficient grounds for divorce.
Need Legal Advice?
Going through divorce is a stressful process, but having a competent divorce and family law attorney by your side can make this challenging time a bit easier. If you live in Jackson and are in need of an experienced family lawyer to guide you and your family through the complicated divorce process contact Derek L. Hall, PC today at (601) 202-2222 to schedule a free initial consultation.