A divorce, or marriage dissolution, is the permanent severing of the legal bonds of matrimony that affects child custody and support, spousal support, the distribution of marital assets and debts, and the parties’ tax status.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Unless your marriage was short-lived with little marital property and no dispute regarding child custody or other issues, consulting a divorce attorney in Mississippi is recommended for determining your rights. Often, poor legal judgment as a result of stress or a desire for revenge has caused one party to relinquish their rights or property to their spouse. Sound legal advice or representation can result in a more favorable resolution.
Getting a Divorce
Mississippi is one of a handful of states that does not recognize a legal separation, which is similar in all aspects to a divorce except that you remain married. The court can, however, issue maintenance, child support, and visitation orders while you are still legally married. Other orders may concern the temporary determination of property use, payment of your debts, and other issues. Spousal maintenance is possible if the recipient party was not the cause of the paying party's departure from the home. Once the paying spouse agrees to move back to reconcile, the payments may cease.
To get a divorce, you will need to file a Bill of Complaint for Divorce, verification, marital settlement agreement, financial disclosure statements, an affidavit regarding the children, child support computation worksheet, request and notice of hearing and decree of divorce.
You can obtain an annulment as another alternative to dissolution, but only if your circumstances fit certain situations:
- You or your spouse was 17 years old or younger and no parental consent was obtained.
- Your wife was pregnant by someone else.
- The marriage was entered into under fraud or duress.
- Either party was judged to be mentally ill or incompetent.
- Incurable impotence.
To get an annulment, hiring a divorce lawyer in Mississippi can help ensure that the proper documentation to support these situations is properly before the court.
Types of Divorce
In Mississippi, you may allege irreconcilable differences as the basis for your divorce, which is essentially a no-fault divorce. Both of you must join in the dissolution petition. You also have the option of a contested dissolution whereby you must allege specific grounds that you are obligated to prove, such as:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Mental incompetence
- Incurable insanity
- Wife’s pregnancy by another person
- Criminal conviction and prison sentence
- Habitual alcohol or drug use
- Desertion for one year
If the grounds are irreconcilable differences, the parties must wait 60 days after filing before a divorce can be granted. If specific grounds are alleged, the divorce can take considerably longer.
Property and Debt Distribution
Mississippi is an equitable distribution state. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the court will determine how your marital property is to be distributed. The court bases its decision on your individual needs and circumstances among many other factors, including tax consequences, the monetary or emotional value of an asset, and the contribution you made to the property.
Determining who is entitled to legal or physical custody of the children is based on the “best interests of the child” standard. The court will consider factors including your children's ages, health, sex, emotional ties, school and community ties, and your parenting skills. In many cases, counselors, social workers, and other family court personnel are asked to gather information and submit testimony regarding these issues.
Hire a Mississippi Divorce Lawyer
Whether you are seeking a divorce, an annulment, or have child support and custody issues, speaking to a Mississippi divorce attorney can ensure your legal rights are protected.