Parties to a failing marriage may seek either a divorce or legal separation under Mississippi law. Generally, a legal separation occurs when the parties are living apart but where there is a possibility that the marriage could be saved. A divorce is the final and legal end of a marriage.
The distinction between divorce and separation can become very nuanced. For example, a legal separation may allow the husband and wife to begin accumulating assets away from the marriage, therefore, these assets would not be included in divorce discussions. Furthermore, you must be a resident of Mississippi for at least 6 months to file for divorce and there is a 60-day waiting period.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
In Mississippi, a divorce can be categorized as either “no-fault” or “at-fault” and the paperwork to be filed is different in each case. No-fault divorces occur where there is a generally amicable separation of spouses and is usually a non-contested process with limited paperwork. However, at-fault based divorces can be highly contentious and may require significant paperwork. At-fault divorces may arise from the following:
- Desertion. Where one spouse has abandoned the other an at-fault claim for divorce can be found. These types of claims can be difficult to demonstrate in practice. For example, a spouse who is absent but continues to pay marriage related expenses (such as taxes) may not be considered to have deserted the other spouse.
- Adultery. Mississippi recognizes marriages as monogamous relationships and a husband or wife can be found to be at-fault where he or she enters relations with another.
- Abuse. Unfortunately, one of the most common grounds for at-fault divorces is abuse (domestic violence).
Often extra paperwork is required to demonstrate that the divorce was the fault of one of the spouses. For example, police reports can help demonstrate that one partner was abusive of the other.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Mississippi considers itself to be an “equitable distribution” state. This classification falls closer to what would be considered a community property state than a separate property state. Generally, Mississippi asks courts to consider what is equitable for both parties to a divorce. The court may consider:
- the best interests of any children to the marriage,
- the living expenses/needs of each spouse,
- the contributions each spouse made towards the assets that were accumulated during the marriage, and
- any other special circumstances (such as illness).
The valuation and distribution of marital property is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you through the entire legal process.
What Should You Do If There are Children Involved?
Children can make a divorce extremely complicated. Mississippi courts will always consider the best interest of any children to a marriage when making decisions related to a divorce. While it is best for the parents to agree to the issue of child custody, the court will decide most issues as to child support after they take into consideration the paying parent’s income and assets.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
Alimony is payments made from one former spouse to another. Alimony payments are generally made to ensure that a spouse can continue living the life he or she has grown accustomed to during the marriage. Alimony payments become scaled depending on the length of the marriage. For example, a marriage that lasted six months will generally require alimony payments for a shorter amount of time than a marriage that lasted 30 years.
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
If you are considering divorce or were served divorce papers, then contact an experienced Mississippi devorce lawyer today to discuss your rights and options under the divorce laws of Mississippi.