A bill before the Mississippi Senate would authorize a 13th ground for divorce based on “Willful and continued separation without cohabitation, with the intent not to return or resume or otherwise continue the marital relationship, for not less than three (3) years. Either party may have a divorce based on this cause.”
Essentially, this ground would allow spouses to separate, wait three years or more, and then file for divorce – without having to assert any other ground. The spouses couldn’t cohabitate while they were separated.
The report does not indicate how other issues such as property division and alimony would be handled. (Would the spouses have to wait three years for resolve those issues too?) It also does not discuss how child custody and child support would be resolved. Since children can’t wait three years to have their needs met, a reasonable expectation would be that child custody and child support would be resolved prior to the end of the three-year waiting period.
The current 12 grounds for divorce
Spouses who can’t agree to a divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences must assert one of the following grounds for divorce in Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Code are:
- Habitual cruel and inhumane treatment
- Willful desertion for at least one continuous year
- A criminal conviction and imprisonment
- Habitual drunkenness
- Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drugs
- Mental illness or mental retardation at the time of the marriage – provided the spouse seeking the divorce did not know of that condition
- Incurable mental illness – generally, the mental illness must exist for at least three years
- Wife pregnant by another man when the couple married and the man was not aware of the pregnancy at the time of the marriage
- Incest – the spouses are related to each “within the degrees of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law”
- Natural impotency
- Bigamy – when one spouse is already married
In addition to fault grounds, Mississippi will approve a divorce if the couple:
- Agrees that there are irreconcilable differences.
- Settle the related family law matters – child custody, child support, property division, and alimony.
- Has fulfilled the “60-day waiting period, assuming the spouses resolve all issues within that time and the court has approved the property settlement agreement.”
Our experienced Southaven divorce lawyers help guide spouses through the stress and anxiety of divorce. We explain your rights and those of your children. Taylor Jones Taylor can review your financial needs and your goals after the marriage ends. For help with all aspects of your divorce, call 662-342-1300 or complete our contact form to make an appointment. We represent clients in the Southaven, Olive Branch, and Hernando areas.