The Two Paths of Divorce in Mississippi

Over the past decade, I have assisted hundreds of people with divorce and divorce-related issues in Mississippi. As we have briefly discussed in previous posts, there are two ways to obtain a divorce in the State of Mississippi: (1) an Irreconcilable Differences Divorce (“ID Divorce”) and (2) a contested or “Fault Based” divorce. While divorce is never without stress and, honestly, there really is no “easy” way to obtain a divorce in Mississippi, an ID Divorce, also known as “agreed” or no-fault divorce, may be considered the “easier” way to obtain a divorce here in this State.

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Contested Divorce in Mississippi

A contested divorce is what most people think of when they hear the term “divorce.” In this type of divorce, one or both of the parties allege that the other spouse committed some type of marital “misconduct” during the marriage that rises to the level of a “fault” ground for divorce. Since 1932, there have been twelve (12) grounds for divorce in Mississippi, with the most commonly used ones including Adultery, Habitual Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, Habitual Drunkenness, Habitual Drug Use, and Desertion. When a party proves his or her ground for divorce, the party may be granted a divorce by the court even if there is no agreement between spouses to be divorced. However, a contested divorce in Mississippi still maintains strict requirements of proof, corroboration, and defenses.

Irreconcilable Difference and the “Agreed” Divorce

Since 1976, Mississippi has allowed couples to divorce based on irreconcilable difference if they could agree to the divorce, as well as agree to issues of child custody, property division, and support. While most states have adopted a true no-fault statute allowing divorce based upon proof by one of the parties that the marriage is irretrievably broken, Mississippi has adopted a version that requires the parties to “agree” to be divorced. Therefore, in Mississippi, no divorce can be granted if one of the parties contests the divorce or the parties cannot agree on all aspects of the divorce. Under Mississippi law, an ID Divorce may be granted by the court when: (1) the court has personal jurisdiction over the parties; (2) the parties agree to the divorce and withdraw any contested issues; (3) file a pleading requesting ID Divorce that is on file for sixty (60) days; (4) the parties agree on all issues relating to custody, property division, and support, or agree in writing to submit these issues to the court; and (5) all divorce-related issues are settled prior to the final judgment of divorce. In sum, an ID Divorce is founded upon (1) voluntariness and (2) consent of both parties to dissolve the marriage and settle any issues stemming from the divorce. If either one of these requirements is missing, an ID Divorce cannot be granted and will often result in a contested, fault-based divorce.

If you are considering divorce, you need to know your options. As an experienced divorce and family law attorney in Mississippi, I can help you better understand how divorce works in Mississippi. Should you or a friend need professional assistance and representation in a divorce or any other family matter, please contact the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt for a fee consultation at (601) 607-5055.