Mississippi Divorce

To file for divorce in Mississippi, one of the parties to the action must have lived in the state for six (6) months next preceding the commencement of the suit.

If a member of the armed services of the United States is stationed in the state and residing within the state with his spouse, such person and his spouse shall be considered residents of the state for the purposes of this section, provided they were residing within the state at the time of the separation of the parties.

If both parties agree, a divorce may be issues on grounds of irreconcilable differences. There are also 12 other causes for divorce in Mississippi:

  1. Natural impotency.
  2. Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.
  3. Being sentenced to any penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.
  4. Wilful, continued and obstinate desertion for the space of one year.
  5. Habitual drunkenness.
  6. Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drug.
  7. Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.
  8. Insanity or idiocy at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of such infirmity.
  9. Marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.
  10. Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of such pregnancy.
  11. Either party may have a divorce if they be related to each other within the degrees of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.
  12. Incurable insanity.

Mississippi is an equitable distribution state. This means that with regard to Mississippi divorce assets, anything the spouses brought into a marriage usually will not be included in Mississippi divorce assets or Mississippi divorce property. The only property that comes into the court's distribution is that which is legally classified as property of the marriage subject to Mississippi case law.

The court may order maintenance and alimony of the wife or the husband, or any allowance to be made to her or him, and shall, if need be, require bond, sureties or other guarantee for the payment of the sum so allowed.

In Mississippi, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child where both parents have agreed to an award of joint custody. When parents cannot work out an agreement, a judge will award custody according to the best interests of the child standard with no presumption that it is in the best interest of a child that a mother be awarded either legal or physical custody.

Also, a child who is at least 12 years of shall have the privilege of choosing the parent with whom he/she shall live.

The court may require that each parent contribute to the support of the children in proportion to the relative financial ability of each. Child support terminates upon the emancipation of the child. Emancipation occurs when the child:

  1. Attains the age of twenty-one (21) years, or
  2. Marries, or
  3. Discontinues full-time enrollment in school and obtains full-time employment prior to attaining the age of twenty-one (21) years, or
  4. Voluntarily moves from the home of the custodial parent or guardian and establishes independent living arrangements and obtains full-time employment prior to attaining the age of twenty-one (21) years.

This is the most crucial issue in most divorces. In determining the custody of minor (under eighteen) children, the court is guided by one standard–the best interests of the child. Custody will not be given to a parent as a reward or as punishment to the guilty parent but rather to the one most adaptable to the task of caring for the child and able to control and direct the child.

Other factors considered may include the age of the parent and child, the physical and mental condition of the parent and child, the relationship existing between each parent and each child, the needs of the child, the role played by each parent in the upbringing and caring for the child, the home where the child will live and the child's wishes if the child is of sufficient age, intelligence and maturity to make such a decision. Custody may be changed if there is a material change in circumstances.

The court will normally set visitation rights if the parents cannot voluntarily agree upon satisfactory arrangements. An important factor to the court in most custody cases is which parent will be the most likely to see to it that the non-custodial parent remains a strong part of the child or children's lives.

A premarital agreement is one that the parties enter into prior to marriage that details the distribution of property in the event of a divorce. These agreements are valid in Missouri so long as the agreement is in writing and either signed by both parties or acknowledged by one or more witnesses. To be enforceable the agreement must also be recorded in the recorder's office.