Area of Law:
To begin a divorce proceeding in Mississippi, one spouse files a divorce complaint with the clerk at the local court. File the divorce complaint at the court located in the county where either you or your spouse live. The spouse filing the petition is the plaintiff and the other spouse is the defendant. In addition, after the plaintiff files the divorce complaint, the plaintiff must serve a copy of the complaint on the defendant.
You must be a resident of the state of Mississippi for at least six months prior to filing for divorce, or the court will dismiss your case for lack of jurisdiction. When a spouse files for divorce, the spouse will have to pay the court a filing fee. The filing fee in Mississippi varies according to the county. Therefore, contact the clerk at the court prior to filing to determine how much filing fees are in your area. In addition, if you cannot afford the filing fee, the court may waive the fee for you if you can show financial hardship.
In Mississippi, a spouse has the option of seeking a no-fault divorce or a divorce based upon one of 12 grounds for divorce recognized in Mississippi. A no-fault divorce is similar to an uncontested divorce, and is possible if both spouses agree to the divorce and all issues including child support and the division of property. If the spouses cannot agree, the spouse must select one of the 12 grounds. For example, a spouse can select irreconcilable differences as a ground for divorce in Mississippi. However, if a spouse selects irreconcilable differences, the spouses must wait 60 days from the date of filing for the divorce to be final. During the 60 days, the spouses should attempt to resolve all issues in order to proceed with the finalization of the divorce. All other grounds for divorce do not have a specified waiting period in Mississippi.
One of the issues that may arise during a Mississippi divorce proceeding is the division of marital assets. Marital assets are property jointly held by both spouses and acquired during the marriage. However, marital property does not include separate property. Separate property is property belonging to one spouse, owned either prior to marriage or acquired by gift or bequest during the marriage. In Mississippi, there are no statutory factors that constrain the judge to divide the marital property in a particular way. Therefore, the division of property is up to the judge. For example, a judge usually divides jointly titled property equally between the spouses, but the judge has the discretion to modify this arrangement if the judge feels that it is necessary. If you have additional questions regarding the grounds for divorce in Mississippi, visit the Mississippi State Bar’s website http://www.msbar.org/10_family_law.php?spot=869&archive=18.
If you and your spouse can agree about the division of the marital property, consider drafting a marital settlement agreement. However, agreeing on settlement terms is often the hardest part of a divorce proceeding. Therefore, the court may recommend both spouses attend mediation to try to resolve any contested issues.
For additional information regarding how to file for divorce in Mississippi, visit http://www.divorcelawinfo.com/states/miss/mississippi.htm.