Getting a Divorce in Mississippi? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Mississippi
1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Mississippi?
You or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing. If you’re a member of the armed services, stationed in Mississippi and living there with your spouse at the time that you separate, you are considered residents.
Unless you are filing solely on the ground of irreconcilable differences, you also must file in the county in which your spouse lives; or, if he or she is no longer a resident, in the county where you lived when you separated, if you still live there. If not, then you must file in the county where you live.
If you file for divorce solely on the ground of irreconcilable differences, you can file in the county where either you or your spouse lives, if you both are residents of the state. If one of you is no longer a resident, then you must file in the county where the other still lives.
2. Does Mississippi have a waiting period?
If you file for a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, the court will not hold a hearing for at least 60 days.
3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?
Yes. You may file for divorce in Mississippi on these grounds:
1. Your spouse is impotent.
2. Your spouse committed adultery — had an affair (unless it looks like you and your spouse planned this to have a ground for divorce, or you and your spouse lived together as husband and wife after the incident).
3. Your spouse is sentenced to prison without pardon.
4. Your spouse has purposefully deserted you and been gone for more than a year.
5. Your spouse is habitually drunk.
6. Your spouse habitually abuses drugs.
7. Your spouse is habitually cruel and inhumane.
8. Your spouse was insane at the time of your marriage, and you did not know it.
9. Your spouse was already married to someone else at the time you thought you were married.
10. Your spouse was pregnant by someone else at the time of your marriage, and you did not know it.
11. Your spouse turns out to be related to you.
12. Your spouse is incurably insane, meaning he or she has been in treatment and confined to an institution for at least three years, and two physicians have signed an affidavit stating that he or she is mentally disturbed (you may be required to provide for care for the rest of your spouse’s life, unless he or she has the means to pay for it).
You also may file on the ground of irreconcilable differences, but only if you and your spouse file together, or your spouse has been personally served with divorce papers, or your spouse has waived this process in writing. Mississippi will not grant a divorce for irreconcilable differences if your spouse contests or denies it, unless your spouse withdraws or cancels his or her contest or denial.
Irreconcilable differences may be the ground on which you file for divorce, or it may be an alternate ground for divorce with any of the other causes listed above.
4. How does Mississippi determine the division of property?
Mississippi is a title state, which means that you and your spouse keep what you each have titled in your name. Beyond that, the court will consider what is equitable, or fair, in dividing your property. To determine what is fair, the court takes into consideration:
- Whether you or your spouse made a substantial contribution toward acquiring your property.
- The way you and your spouse each handled your marital property.
- The value of your marital property.
- The value of you and your spouse’s separate property.
- The tax situation you each would face after your property is divided.
- How dividing your property might make alimony unnecessary.
- You and your spouse’s needs and assets.
- You and your spouse’s income and earning capacities.
- Anything else the court considers relevant.
5. Does Mississippi require mediation before a divorce is granted?
It’s not a routine requirement, but the court may order you and your spouse to seek mediation if it seems beneficial in your case.
6. How does the state determine child custody?
Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life — where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies. Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.
You and your spouse are encouraged to submit your own plan for custody and visitation. But if you cannot agree, the court will decide based on the best interest of your child. In Mississippi, the different options for physical and legal custody are generally considered in this order:
- Physical and legal custody to both parents jointly.
- Physical custody to both parents jointly and legal custody to either parent.
- Legal custody to both parents jointly and physical custody to either parent.
- Physical and legal custody to either parent.
If the court finds that both you and your spouse have abandoned or deserted your child or that both of you are mentally, morally or otherwise unfit to raise your child, the court may award physical and legal custody to the person in whose home your child has been living in a stable environment; or to any other person the court considers able to provide proper care and guidance for your child.
The court will presume that joint physical and legal custody is in the best interest of your child when you and your spouse agree to it.
In turn, the court also will assume that it is not in the best interest of your child to award joint custody if one of you has a history of family violence. In this case, a much more extensive investigation is conducted.
If the court awards sole custody of your child to one of you, the other parent’s parents (your child’s grandparents) may petition the court for visitation rights.
7. How does the state calculate child support?
Mississippi has established a set of guidelines to calculate an appropriate amount of support. It is based on the number of children who will be due support as well as your adjusted gross incomes, which are determined by adding up your incomes from a long list of possible sources, then subtracting any deductions that the state allows.
The basic formula looks like this:
Number of children: Percentage of adjusted gross income to be awarded
One: 14 percent
Two: 20 percent
Three: 22 percent
Four: 24 percent
Five or more: 26 percent
After the basic amount is established, the court will make adjustments based on who is providing health insurance for your child.
To be sure the basic child support is fair and in the best interest of your child, the court will weigh these factors:
- Any extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses.
- Whether your child has any independent income.
- Whether alimony (spousal support) is being paid.
- Any seasonal variations in you or your spouse’s incomes or expenses.
- Your child’s age, taking into account the greater needs of older children.
- Special needs that have traditionally been met within your family’s budget, even though fulfilling those needs will cause the support to exceed the guidelines.
- Your shared parental arrangement, especially if the non-custodial parent will spend a great deal of time with your child, reducing the custodial parent’s expenses; or
- The non-custodial parent refuses to be involved in your child’s activities or the custodial parent contributes as a homemaker to your child’s situation.
- You, your spouse, and your child’s total available assets.
- Anything else the court decides is relevant.
8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is not a given in a divorce case, but either you or your spouse may request it. In determining whether to award alimony and, if so, how much, the court will consider these factors:
- You and your spouse’s income and expenses.
- You and your spouse’s health and earnings.
- You and your spouse’s needs, debts and assets.
- Whether you and your spouse have children.
- You and your spouse’s ages.
- The standard of living you established during your marriage.
- Any tax consequences if alimony is awarded.
- Whether one of you was at fault in the divorce, based on your grounds for filing.
- Whether you or your spouse was wasteful with your assets.
- Anything else the court considers relevant.
If the court decides to award alimony, it might award periodic payments, which end when the one receiving it remarries or the one paying it dies; it might award the alimony to be paid in one lump sum; or it might order alimony to be paid for a set time while the one receiving it takes steps to become self-supporting.
9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Mississippi?
You and your spouse are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage, unless the court includes in your decree a waiting period for a spouse found guilty of adultery.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The state statutes are online here.
You’ll find a description of what constitutes adjusted gross income for child support in Mississippi here.
Mississippi Division of Child Support Enforcement can be found here.
Please note: Local and state laws change constantly, therefore this information is for educational purposes only. We do our best to keep state-specific information up-to-date, but please contact us to discuss your unique situation.