The 411 on Getting a Divorce in Mississippi

In Mississippi, state law governs the process by which one can get a divorce.  Specifically, it dictates the particulars of who can get a divorce, the underlying legal process related to same, how property is divided, and also, the manner in which child custody and support are determined.  Accordingly, it is important to become familiar with Mississippi’s divorce laws in order to understand your legal options and obligations before starting the process.

Who then, is entitled to get a divorce in Mississippi?  Generally, parties eligible to get divorced in Mississippi must have sufficient contacts with the State, which primarily includes being a resident for at least 6 months prior to filing.  While a divorce premised on no-fault grounds may be commenced in any county where either spouse resides, a fault based divorce however, must be brought where the filing party resides if the defendant cannot be located or lives outside of the State.  In the event that the defendant is a resident of Mississippi, then the divorce proceeding can be brought in any county where the spouses reside.

Does Mississippi require you to be separated for a certain period of time before starting the divorce process, and how long does the divorce process usually take?  In Mississippi, there is no statutory requirement to be separated before filing for divorce.  However, there is a sixty day waiting period before the court can order a no-fault divorce.  In highly contested cases, a divorce can take several months, if not years, to resolve.

What are the costs associated with filing for divorce in Mississippi?  When you file for divorce, there generally are two costs for pursuing same, which includes both court costs and legal fees.  The cost for actually filing your divorce case is usually around $52.00, but you may be required to pay an additional $25.00 for serving your spouse with your divorce petition.  As for legal fees, this generally varies depending upon the degree of complexity of your case and the legal positions of the parties (i.e. are the parties trying to resolve the case together or are they completely polarized?).

Is it necessary for me to prove grounds for getting a Mississippi divorce?  Generally, no.  In Mississippi, you can get a divorce on no-fault grounds, which means that you can end your marriage due to whatever reason why the union has irreconcilably ended.  Importantly, there is also no greater benefit to a party seeking a divorce based upon fault (such as adultery, impotency, insanity, desertion, etc.), as such grounds must be proven in the event that they are challenged.

How do Mississippi courts divide marital property?  Mississippi is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that each spouse takes his or her separate property, with the court dividing the marital property based upon several dispositive factors, such as the age, education, background and earning capacities if both parties, the standard of living during the marriage, the health and needs of the parties, etc.

How is child support determined in Mississippi?  Child support is examined in Mississippi using what is called the “income shares” model, which includes 1) calculating the income of both parents and adding it up, 2) taking the total income sum and applying it in a way to render the applicable child support payment percentages, 3) adding to the equation the extra costs incurred by the parties, including daycare and medical expenses, etc., and 4) dividing the ultimate sum by each party’s respective income.  Additionally, child support is payable to the custodial spouse until emancipation of the child, which usually occurs when the child turns 21, is married, joins the armed services, or is sent to prison for at least two years.  Under certain circumstances, a Mississippi court can also order that a child be emancipated.

Will I have to pay alimony to my ex?  A party may entitled to alimony, or spousal support, depending upon several factors, (while not exhaustive), including the income, expenses, ages, and physical condition of the parties.  Additional considerations are:  the standard of living of the parties, the financial needs of the spouse seeking alimony, and whether any of the parties engaged in misconduct during the marriage.  Alimony in Mississippi can either be permanent or temporary, depending upon the underlying circumstances of one’s case.

If you are seeking to get a divorce in Mississippi, it is crucial to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of complex cases.  As evident from the above, there are several factors associated with getting a divorce in Mississippi, which makes it essential to work with an attorney capable of advising you of your legal options, the nature and extent of your rights and responsibilities, as well as the ways in which you can reduce your potential liability exposure. Give us a call now to learn more about how we can help you.  We look forward to providing you with superior legal representation.

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