Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi

By Bernadette A. Safrath
Mississippi recognizes both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce.
ring image by Jens Klingebiel from Fotolia.com

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. The procedure is somewhat similar in all states, but each state has its own individual requirements. In Mississippi, for example, there are both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce. The list of fault grounds is more extensive than most other states. The filing spouse or spouses must include at least one provable ground in the complaint in order for a court to grant a divorce.

Irreconcilable Differences

In Mississippi, filing for divorce under the first no-fault ground is the easiest and least expensive option. The spouses must both agree to the divorce and will file a joint complaint with the court seeking the divorce based on the ground of "irreconcilable differences." They must also file an agreement that addresses division of marital property, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support. As long as those outstanding issues have been addressed without dispute, a court will grant the divorce sixty days after the initial complaint was filed. (References 2, 3)

Irreconcilable Differences with Contested Issues

When spouses agree that they both want the divorce, but other issues are in dispute, they can still file for divorce under no-fault grounds. However, they must express to the court that there are certain outstanding issues to be addressed. Spouses will still file the joint complaint requesting a divorce on the ground of "irreconcilable differences." Before the court finalizes the divorce, it will decide any issues in dispute. The court will divide property amongst the spouses, award maintenance to one spouse if she requires financial support from the other spouse and will grant custody of any children to one or both spouses. (Reference 3)

Fault Grounds: Medical Issues

If spouses do not agree to file for divorce jointly or if one spouse is clearly at fault for causing the marriage to end, Mississippi also recognizes fault divorce. There are twelve grounds for fault divorce, including several that address medical issues. First, a spouse can file for divorce if the other spouse was insane when the marriage occurred or has become "incurably insane" as diagnosed by a doctor. Also, if after the marriage a doctor diagnoses either spouse as being "naturally impotent," a divorce can be granted. (References 1, 2, 3)

Fault Grounds: Illegal Marriages

In some cases a marriage was illegal at the time it took place. Mississippi recognizes two grounds for divorce under those circumstances. First, an incestuous marriage is illegal and must be terminated. Incest means that the spouses share a familial relationship, such as parent, sibling or cousin. Second, if one spouse was already married to another person at the time of the marriage, the second marriage is invalid and the spouses have grounds for a divorce. (References 1, 2, 3)

Fault Grounds: Inappropriate Behaviors

Sometimes a marriage falls apart because one spouse did something wrong. Mississippi recognizes seven fault grounds based on one spouse's inappropriate conduct. They are when a wife being pregnant by a man who is not her husband, adultery, one spouse's intentional abandonment for at least one continuous year, one spouse's incarceration in a federal or state prison, "cruel and inhuman treatment," including physical and emotional abuse, continuous alcohol use and continuous drug use. (References 1, 2, 3)