Divorce can be difficult enough when both spouses agree to end things. It can be significantly more difficult if one side wants out and the other does not. A divorce in which both sides agree is usually called an uncontested divorce. In this scenario, the couple cites “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for divorce and then goes about separating their property and planning a parenting schedule. In the other type of divorce, where one spouse refuses to cooperate, the divorce-seeking party must sue for divorce. In Mississippi, there are several grounds for suing for divorce.
In Mississippi and several other states, divorce is granted when one side proves the other has committed one or more fault grounds. These are so named because they are the grounds for a legal divorce. If one of the spouses is unwilling to end things but has committed one of these fault grounds, the court will grant the divorce. Furthermore, the court will separate the spouses’ assets and parenting time. One of the several determining factors the court looks at when giving custody and marital assets is whether either side has committed one of these fault grounds. In other words, the court will not look favorably on an abusive spouse who refuses their partner a divorce. The fault grounds in Mississippi are:
This is when one spouse willingly abandons the other for the length of at least one year without any intention of returning. Desertion can even occur while both parties still live under the same roof if they live as strangers and the deserter intends to end the marriage. After a year of living like this, there are grounds for the deserted to sue for divorce.
Any affairs outside the marriage are grounds for divorce as long as they can be proven in a court of law. There also must be no evidence that the adulterer was forgiven by their spouse after the fact. Proof of attempted reconciliation may constitute condonation, which is the legal term used for forgiveness.
Habitual Cruelty, Drunkenness, or Drug Use
Physical or mental abuse is a divorceable offense, particularly when it is habitual in nature. It is defined as behavior that threatens life, limb, or health or, at the very least, insinuates such danger. Evidence of physical or mental abuse can be provided by police reports and eyewitness testimony from family or neighbors. Habitual drunkenness or drug use can be proven similarly, and one needs only prove that these reoccurring habits have made the marriage unbearable. Judges are well aware that substance abuse and spousal abuse often go hand in hand.
Several fault grounds are based on one partner being unaware of an important issue at the time of the marriage. These are grounds for divorce because they represent deception in the legally binding marriage contract. These include natural impotence, pre-existing pregnancy by another person, insanity, or Idiocy. As long as the offended party was unaware of these conditions at the time of the marriage, they are grounds for divorce.
If a person is imprisoned for one year or more, their spouse has the right to divorce them.
Bigamy or Incest
The final two fault grounds are pretty self-explanatory. Family members marrying is illegal, as is being married to multiple people simultaneously. The court will grant a divorce for these circumstances immediately.
What If My Spouse Can’t Be Found?
In the case of desertion, or when a spouse is determined to evade a divorce, specific steps can be taken to find and serve them. First, a process server or sheriff’s deputy will attempt to serve them the divorce paperwork. If they are unsuccessful, or the spouse has moved away and left no forwarding address, you must satisfy the court with a “diligent search and inquiry.” This means tracking down their family or associates in an attempt to find them. If you cannot locate them, you can take out an ad in the local paper. The announcement must run for three weeks, and your spouse must respond within 30 days. After that, the court will consider them served.
What If My Spouse Refuses To Sign?
If you are suing for divorce under one of the fault grounds mentioned above, the court will usually hear your evidence and grant your divorce regardless of whether your spouse responds or bothers to show up. They do not need to comply for you to get divorced.
If you have more questions about how to free yourself from an unhappy marriage, or you’re ready to take legal action to improve your situation, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797.