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Mississippi Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a divorce in Mississippi, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
A spouse must be a resident of the state of Mississippi for a least 6 months prior to filing. If a member of the armed forces is stationed in Mississippi, he or she and his or her spouse is considered a resident. The divorce should be filed in the county in which either spouse resides if they are both residents and if the plaintiff is the only resident then in the county in which he or his resides. (Mississippi Code - Section 93 - Chapters: 5-5, 5-11)
Grounds for Filing:The Bill of Complaint for Divorce must declare the appropriate Mississippi grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:
A divorce will be granted by the court for the following grounds:
(1) Irreconcilable Differences
(1) Impotence (2) Committing adultery (3) Incarceration (4) Abuse of alcohol or drugs (5) Insanity for up to three years (6) Wife being pregnant by another without spouse knowing it (7) Willful desertion for at least one year (8) Cruel and inhuman treatment (9) One spouse lacking mental capacity to consent to divorce (10) Incest. (Mississippi Code - Section 93 - Chapters: 5-1, 5-2, 5-7)
Filing Spouse Title:Complainant. The Complainant is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Defendant. The Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:Chancery Court of __________ County, State of Mississippi. This is the Mississippi court where the divorce will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Bill of Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce according to Mississippi law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Verification, Marital Settlement Agreement, Affidavit Regarding the Children, Request for Hearing, and Notice of Hearing
Court Clerk's Title:Office of the Clerk of the County Chancery Court. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Mississippi is a "Title Property" state. In Mississippi the property distribution laws are based on the titling of the property. Each spouse will retain or be awarded all property that is in his or her name upon divorce. Over recent years this method has proven to be rather unfair, so certain judges have ruled in favor of a more equitable distribution method. On a case-by-case basis the court may look at certain factors and divide the property in a fashion other than basing the award simply on which spouse has title. The factors that have been considered are; the contribution each spouse has made to the acquisition of the property; the market vale of the property; the financial stability of the spouses; and the tax consequences of the property.
Restoration or Name Change:When filing for a divorce, each spouse has the right to petition the court for a name change.
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
If the spouses can not agree on the issue of maintenance, the court make an award that it believes to be fair. The court will consider the following factors, but not limited to; income and expenses of each spouse; the spouse's health and medical condition; the spouse's needs and debt obligations; the custodial arrangement; the ages of the spouse's; the standard of living during the marriage; tax ramifications; marital fault or misconduct; and dissipation of assets. (Mississippi Code - Section 93 - Chapters: 5-23)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a divorce, the Mississippi courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
When the parents are not in agreement regarding the custodial arrangement, the court will award custody with the best interest of the children in mind. The court will award sole or joint custody at any time it deems appropriate. If the parents are filing under grounds of irreconcilable differences, they may both a agree to joint custody and the court will except that this is what is best for the children. If the divorce is filed on fault grounds, either parent has the right to petition for joint custody. The court will consider the wishes of a child if he or she is 12 years or older. Any accusation of abuse will be investigated by the court. (Mississippi Code - Section 93 - Chapters: 5-23, 5-24, 11-65)
Child Support:Mississippi child support guidelines uses the Percentage of Income Formula which calculates the support obligation as a percentage of the income of the non-custodial parent who is obligated to support the child. This method simply applies a percentage to the income of the parent according to the number of children requiring support.
If the parents are not able to agree on an sufficient support amount to be paid to support the children, the court will examine the income and expenses of each spouse and establish a child support award that it believes is equitable. The court may also require a spouse to obtain or maintain health insurance for the children. All support obligations are established on a case-by-case basis, so many factors may be considered by the court for each unique situation. (Mississippi Code - Section 93 - Chapters: 5-23, 11-65)
Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of Mississippi divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
Mississippi decides property division based on equitable distribution, and they are the only state in the U.S. that takes the name on the title of property into account.
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Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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