Agreed Divorce in Ridgeland, Mississippi

Divorce signals the breakdown of a loving relationship, and for many it can represent a personal failure that is tough to forget. Mississippi’s divorce rates are among the highest in the nation and there is no sign that this will end anytime soon. Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to get a divorce in Mississippi. Mississippi has one of the strictest sets of divorce law in the country. In fact, Mississippi and South Dakota remain the only states that will not grant a unilateral no-fault divorce based on one spouse’s proof of irreconcilable differences. However, for many people divorce can also be a fresh start. As an experienced divorce attorney in the City of Ridgeland, Mississippi, my office deals with divorce issues in the Madison, Rankin and Hinds County areas on a daily basis. We believe in experienced, aggressive representation and work closely with our clients to create solutions to achieve the result you desire in your divorce case.

There are currently two ways to get a divorce in the State of Mississippi. The first is a divorce initiated by a lawsuit, where some type of marital fault or misconduct is alleged by a spouse with the intention of seeking a divorce. This is commonly referred to as a “fault-based” or “contested” divorce. The other path is a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, commonly referred to as a “no-fault” divorce or an “agreed” divorce.

I routinely encounter both types of divorce in my practice. However, the terminology associated with an irreconcilable differences divorce seems to confuse clients more than other types of cases. The term “no-fault” can be misleading, as there may be fault by either party during the marriage, but neither party is alleging fault in the divorce action. Spouses pursuing an irreconcilable differences divorce in Ridgeland, Mississippi typically wish to avoid the litigation associated with a fault based divorce and agree to the divorce and all issues that touch on the divorce, including child custody and support, property division and spousal support.

For a court to grant an agreed divorce based on irreconcilable differences in Ridgeland, Mississippi, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Personal jurisdiction of the court over the parties. A pleading must be filed requesting a divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences. A no-fault divorce will only be granted upon joint complaint of the parties or a complaint where the defendant has been personally served with process or has appeared by written waiver of process.
  2. Parties must consent to divorce and withdraw any contest or denial. The agreement to a no-fault divorce must be entered with both parties’ consent. Johnson v. Johnson, 21 So. 3d 694, 697 (Miss. Ct. App. 2009). This may be done either by filing a joint complaint or by withdrawing a contest of the action and submitting a written agreement. Consent may be withdrawn by a party filing for divorce based on fault ( Grier v. Grier, 616 So. 2d 337, 340 (Miss. 1993)) or by one party filing express withdrawal of the joint complaint. McCleave v. McCleave, 491 So. 2d 522, 523 (Miss. 1986).
  3. A pleading requesting irreconcilable differences divorce must have been on file for 60 days. Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-2(4).
  4. Parties must agree on all issues in writing or must agree in writing to submit issues to the court. The Mississippi Supreme Court requires a written agreement. If the parties agree to the divorce but wish to submit other issues to the court, the agreement must be in writing, signed personally by the parties, specifically state the issues for submission to the court, and state that the parties understand the court’s decision will be a binding judgment. Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-2(3) (2004); see Massengill v. Massengill, 594 So. 2d 1173, 1175 (Miss. 1992).
  5. All matters related to the divorce must be settled prior to any judgment. The effect of this depends on the judge’s reading of the statute, however the Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld divorces granted before all issues were resolved.

The statute initially required agreement between the spouses on all related issues to be granted an irreconcilable differences divorce. Gallaspy v. Gallaspy, 459 So. 2d 283, 284 (Miss. 1984) (both parties wanted the divorce but could not agree on property division and support, therefore a no-fault divorce was unavailable). However, parties may now consent to the divorce only and leave decisions on financial or custody issues to the court. Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-2(3).

As you can see, the largest themes of a no-fault divorce are consent, voluntariness and agreement. If you believe that an irreconcilable differences divorces is possible in your marriage, call the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt. Our experienced attorney has a thorough understanding of Mississippi divorce and family law, and is committed to helping our clients through these stressful times. To schedule a free consultation, call the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt at 601-607-5055.