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Filing for Divorce in Mississippi
There are tactical advantages for the person who files for divorce first. The legal document that starts the proceeding is the Complaint for Divorce. It covers technical matters and asks the court for anything to which you may be entitled. If you and your spouse cannot agree on something, then you must ask the court for it in the Complaint or the court cannot give it to you. Remember, you cannot get what you do not ask for, so lawyers often put way more than they could really expect to get in the Complaint. If the wording seems bizarre or as if it were written in another language, remember that it is a formal legal document and a great deal of the wording is required by old laws. If your spouse has already filed, be sure that I have a copy of the Complaint as soon as possible.
If you file first, your name will be listed on the Complaint as the Plaintiff. Your spouse will be the Defendant, but he or she may still file for relief against you in the form of a counterclaim. The cost for filing a Complaint is usually about $90.00, and after it is filed you must have someone "serve" your spouse with process. This usually costs about $25.00, but it could be much more expensive. The sheriff's department has people who serve papers, but we often use private process servers when we think service will be difficult or if time is of the essence.
If your spouse does not answer the Complaint within thirty days, we can have a trial without him or her. A divorce cannot be rendered without having a witness to agree or corroborate your testimony in court, unless the divorce is based upon irreconcilable differences, and in that case the divorce may be entered by me after a meeting with the Chancellor to present the divorce.
In order to file for divorce, one spouse must be a resident of Mississippi for at least six months before filing for divorce. However, for a divorce action, a person who is in the armed forces and stationed in Mississippi is considered to be a resident.
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