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Mississippi Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
The spouse filing for divorce is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant.
The first form the plaintiff completes when filing for divorce is the Complaint for Divorce, which states that at least one spouse has been a resident of the state for six months and gives a legal ground for divorce.
The complaint also identifies any other issues the plaintiff wishes to raise, such as dividing assets and debts, child custody, child support and alimony. Spouses who agree on all of these issues can file pro se for an uncontested divorce.
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
Filing for divorce means the plaintiff gives the divorce complaint to the clerk’s office of the chancery court in the county of filing. The clerk returns a copy of the signed complaint. The clerk time and date stamps the original with a notation showing that it has been filed. The county may have a domestic relations or family law self-help department to help with filing questions.
Serving the Documents
The plaintiff must serve the defendant a copy of the filed Complaint for Divorce. Service of process, as it is called, can be done in several ways.
Disclosing Financial Information
The county of filing may require certain financial disclosures depending on local rules. The types of information typically required includes income, assets, debts, tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, personal financial statements, and any other documentation containing financial information that the other spouse or the court should know about before the divorce.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
If both spouses agree on all of the issues of the divorce, they can file for an uncontested divorce. The couple must prepare and sign a settlement agreement and state that all issues have been resolved.
If the spouses can't agree, it is a contested divorce, and the Mississippi courts will divide property and assets in an equitable (fair) fashion - not necessarily equal. One thing that is different from many states is that under Mississippi law, spouses retain property for which they have title. Otherwise, the property will be divided based on a number of factors used to determine what is fair and equitable, such as the length of the marriage and the contributions of each spouse during the marriage.
Finalizing the Divorce
After filing for a no-fault divorce, the spouses must wait 60 days before the divorce can be granted. There is no waiting period for a fault-based divorce. These time limits reflect the minimum time limits. If issues are being contested and must be litigated in front of a judge, the process of litigating those issues can drag on for months or in extreme cases, years.
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