A Summary of Mississippi Divorce Laws

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Grounds for Divorce Under Mississippi Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws Specifically for the State of Mississippi

Mississippi, the state that gave us Elvis, Pine Sol, and Root beer, allows for divorce on numerous grounds, which can be separated into two categories. General grounds for divorce include any of the following:

  1. Natural impotency
  2. Adultery
  3. Being sentenced to any penitentiary without pardon
  4. Desertion / Abandonment
  5. Drunkenness
  6. Drug addiction
  7. Cruel and inhuman treatment (this can include psychological, physical, or other forms of abuse)
  8. Insanity
  9. Bigamy
  10. Pregnancy of the wife by a man other than her husband
  11. Incest

In addition to any of those General Grounds for divorce under Mississippi divorce laws. the state also allows for divorce under the no-fault grounds or irreconcilable differences (meaning the marriage is broken beyond repair).

Irreconcilable Differences

In order to get a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences, both the husband and the wife must file a joint complaint. Barring that, the husband or the wife must personally serve divorce papers to the other spouse (i.e. the defendant) or the defendant must enter an appearance by written waiver of process.

In a divorce involving children and/or property (and assuming you can come to any sort of agreement), you must provide this agreement in writing and it must address both the custody and support of any children from that marriage; in addition to that, you must also provide a written settlement of any property rights. The court must find these provisions adequate and sufficient to incorporate them in the judgment.

In the very likely event that the husband and wife do not agree on who/what belongs to whom, they may leave it up to the court to decide for them . Written consent must be signed by both parties personally, must state that the parties voluntarily consent to permit the court to decide such issues (related to any children and/or property issues), and that the parties understand that the decision of the court shall be a binding and lawful judgment.

Complaints for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences must have been on file for sixty (60) days before being heard.

Except in special circumstances, no divorce shall be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences where one of the parties has disputed the grounds, unless the contest or denial has been withdrawn or cancelled by the party filing same by leave and order of the court.

Irreconcilable differences may be asserted as a sole ground for divorce or as an alternate ground for divorce with any other acceptable cause for divorce.

Residency Requirements

In order to file for divorce in the state, Mississippi divorce laws require that at least one of you must have resided there for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce.

Waiting Period

For cases of divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the waiting period is sixty (60) days from the day the complaint was filed until you can even being heard. And this is just the minimum wait time.

In the case of abuse or maltreatment, Mississippi divorce laws do not require a waiting period. however, it may take longer than sixty (60) days to set a trial date.

Venue – Where to File

Where to file depends on where you live. Remember that either one of you must be a resident of the state in order to file for divorce. As such, if you are the plaintiff (the one filing for divorce based on general grounds) and you are a resident of the state, you must file in the county in which you live. If the defendant (your soon-to-be-former spouse) lives in the state and you do not, you will have to file in the county where he/she lives. If you are filing for divorce based upon irreconcilable differences, you may file in the county where either one of you resides.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

An action to file for divorce in the state of Mississippi is called the Bill of Complaint for Divorce and the title of the action that grants the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce. The name of the court where the action takes place (the place you go to file for divorce) is called the Chancery Court. The person who is filing for divorce is the Complainant and the other person involved is the Defendant.


 It is up to the discretion of the court to grant alimony to either spouse.

Child Custody

The court may grant custody of the child (or children) in any of the following ways:

  • joint physical and legal custody (this means you get to share)
  • joint physical custody and sole legal custody to either parent (this means you share time with the child but only one of you has legal rights to make decisions about the child)
  • joint legal custody and sole physical custody to either parent (this means you share in the decision making but the child resides in the home of the parent with physical custody)
  • sole physical and legal custody to either parent

To put it in simple terms: physical custody refers to where the child lives and legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child such as where he goes to school, whether or not to sign him up for little league, and other, more life-altering decisions. In many cases, parents share legal custody, but it all depends on your individual situation, the agreement you make with your spouse, and/or the decision of the court.

The court will make the decision based upon what they determine to be in the best interest of the children.

Child Support

In the state that ‘birthed’ Kermit the Frog (and his creator, Jim Henson), there are a number of guidelines, based on the number of children needing support.

Percent of Adjusted Gross Income

1 child = 14%
2 children = 20%
3 children = 22%
4 children = 24%
5 or more children = 26%

Financial Statements

In every domestic case involving economic issues and/or property division, each party must provide to the other party the following financial disclosures:

  • A detailed written statement of actual income and expenses and assets and liabilities,
  • Copies of the preceding year’s Federal and State Income Tax returns, in full form as filed, or copies of W-2′s if the return has not yet been filed
  • A general statement of the providing party describing employment history and earnings from the inception of the marriage or from the date of divorce, whichever is applicable

An exception to the above may be made by the Order of the Court for good cause shown.

Property Division

By Court opinion, Mississippi recognizes basic equitable distribution procedures.  Marital property may be divided between the parties regardless of title. In the case of an irreconcilable differences divorce, you must both agree on property matters in what is called a separation and property settlement agreement.

Name Change

The woman may petition the court to restore her former name, if she so chooses.


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