The 12 Grounds for a Divorce in Mississippi
By Heather Frances J.D.
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Mississippi recognizes 12 fault-based grounds for divorce, and if you choose to file for divorce on one of these grounds, you bear the burden of proving to the court that the ground is appropriate for your divorce. Mississippi also recognizes no-fault divorce, and many filers choose no-fault grounds since proving fault often takes longer and is more difficult.
Mental and Physical Condition
Mississippi does not require you or your spouse to be in perfect physical or mental condition to marry, but it does provide several grounds for divorce based on a spouse’s condition: insanity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, and incurable insanity that develops after marriage. If, at the time of your marriage, your spouse was insane or impotent, you may file for divorce on those grounds, but you must also be able to show you did not know about the condition prior to the marriage. If your spouse’s insanity developed after your marriage, you may use this ground for divorce. Often, these grounds require medical proof of the condition and when it developed.
If your spouse has been unfaithful, you may base your divorce on that unfaithfulness. Mississippi recognizes adultery, pregnancy by someone other than the spouse at the time of the marriage, incest and bigamy as grounds for divorce. Only the innocent spouse can use bigamy as grounds, not the bigamous spouse. As with other fault grounds, you must be able to provide sufficient evidence to the court to support your claim. For example, you cannot simply say that your spouse had an affair; you must prove to the court that he committed adultery.
Desertion and Maltreatment
If your spouse deserts you by abandoning the marriage for at least a year, you may file for divorce on grounds of desertion as long as you did not consent to the desertion, your spouse did not have just cause to leave and he did not intend to return. You must show that your spouse refused to renew your relationship. If your spouse tries to return and you refuse to allow it, you may be considered the deserter. You may file on grounds of habitual cruel and inhumane treatment if your spouse endangers your life, physical safety or health, or causes you to reasonably fear such danger. This is the most common fault ground in Mississippi.
Imprisonment and Addiction
You may also file for divorce on grounds of imprisonment, habitual drunkenness or habitual drug use. Imprisonment simply requires your spouse to be in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Habitual drunkenness and habitual drug use require evidence that your spouse is both a habitual drunk or drug user and this conduct hurt your marriage.
- The Mississippi Bar: What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi?
- David M. Waldrop: Mississippi Grounds for Divorce
- M. Judith Barnett, P.A.: What Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Mississippi?
- The Law Office of M. Devin Whitt PLLC: Fault Based Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi
- The Law Office of M. Devin Whitt PLLC: Fault Based Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi Cont'd
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.