What Qualifies for Divorce in Mississippi

While divorce is a situation that no married couple wants to encounter, it sometimes is the next best step for a failing relationship.

Mississippi law follows many of the same divorce laws as other states, but historically has a few much stricter guidelines worth understanding in more detail.

The No-Fault Rule

If both couples agree to divorce and to a settlement involving all of the key issues within the relationship (child custody and support, property/business division, alimony, etc.), then the divorce can occur in a fairly straightforward process.

In any case, to file for divorce in Mississippi, you have to be a state resident for at least six months. Irreconcilable differences divorces must sustain a 60-day waiting period while spouses work through many of the issues outlined above. If a pregnancy is involved, the court will typically wait until the child is born to address support issues.
Suppose one spouse will not agree to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences and the divorce doesn’t meet one of the grounds below. In that case, it can be extremely difficult to make divorce legally happen.

The 12 Grounds for Divorce

In Mississippi, there are 12 fault divorce grounds under which a proceeding could be granted. All ground-based divorces require corroborative evidence. This can be testimony or other evidence to satisfy the clear and convincing standard. These faults do require evidence in order to verify the grounds:

  • Desertion: a spouse’s willful abandonment of the marriage for at least one year
  • Natural impotency: if a spouse cannot produce the means for a child and it’s proven as a naturally occurring situation
  • Unknown pre-marriage pregnancy: if the wife was pregnant by someone other than the spouse before the marriage and it was unknown to the marrying spouse
  • Insanity: if a spouse is deemed mentally unfit to continue with the marriage
  • Idiocy: a spouse may be deemed not intelligent enough to continue with the marriage
  • Adultery: when a spouse is unfaithful
  • Imprisonment: if a spouse has been placed in a penitentiary for any amount of time
  • Habitual drunkenness: requires clear and convincing evidence of habitual use with a negative impact on the marriage
  • Habitual use of addictive drugs: same stipulation as habitual drunkenness
  • Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment: conduct that endangers one spouse
  • Bigamy: only the innocent spouse (not the one married to more than one person) can cite this
  • Incest: As defined by Mississippi law

Mississippi’s ‘Equitable Distribution’ Law

Mississippi courts follow the state law of “equitable distribution”. This means that while theoretically marital assets and property are split 50/50, it’s more based on the discretion of the judge. The judge’s decision must consider some or all of the following as it pertains to both spouses: Substantial contribution (and indirect economic contribution) to property accumulation, contribution to family stability and the education and training of the higher-earning spouse, spousal use or disposition of assets, the market and emotional/sentimental value of assets and the extent to which property division cancels the need for alimony. Additionally, specific civilian and/or military retirement accounts and pensions may be considered within the equitable distribution.


Whether your divorce is no-fault or it falls under one of the grounds listed above, it’s important to enlist the help of a qualified Mississippi divorce attorney to understand your rights and the process from there. Call the Law Offices of Rusty Williard today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule your free consultation.