Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi Cont'd

Continued from Fault-Based Divorce

(5) Habitual drug use - A spouse may be entitled to a divorce based on the defendant’s “habitual” and “excessive” use of “opium, morphine or other like drugs.” Miss Code Ann. § 93-5-1 (2004). In Mississippi, “habitual” means customarily and frequently as opposed to occasional use while “excessive” means that the user is so addicted that he cannot control his appetite for drugs. “Other like drug” also requires that the drug produce an effect similar to that of opium or morphine making the user act irresponsibly. The use of illegal drugs and the misuse of prescription drugs both qualify as grounds for divorce. However, the use of the drug must continue at the time the complaint for divorce is filed. If the use or addiction is resolved prior to filing, a divorce will not be awarded on this grounds.

(6) Habitual drunkenness - this ground is related to habitual drug use and allows a spouse to receive a divorce on proof that the other is habitually drunk. To qualify for a divorce under this ground, a plaintiff should show that a spouse was frequently intoxicated, that the drinking had an adverse effect on the marriage and that the improper conduct continued at the time the divorce complaint was filed.

(7) Habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment - This is one of the most common grounds for divorce in Mississippi, yet one of the toughest to prove. This ground allows a divorce where the defendant’s habitual cruel or inhuman conduct has an adverse impact on the physical and/or mental health of the innocent spouse. To prove this ground a plaintiff must show: (a) conduct by the defendant that meets the test for cruelty; (b) a casual connection between the conduct and the physical or mental harm to the plaintiff; and, (c) corroborating evidence of the defendant’s conduct and/or the impact on the spouse’s mental or physical health.

Under this ground, one act of the defendant may not be sufficient to warrant a divorce, while looking at defendant’s conduct as a whole will support a divorce on the ground of habitual cruelty. Typically one or more incidents of severe physical violence will meet the standard of extreme cruelty, while evidence of an ongoing pattern of emotional abuse is required to support a grant of divorce on this ground. However, simple inability to live together as husband and wife is not cause for a divorce under this ground.

(8) Insanity at time of marriage - a divorce based on insanity or idiocy is available to the sane spouse if the condition existed at the time of the marriage and the plaintiff has no premarital knowledge of the spouse’s condition. The divorce should be sought within a reasonable time or otherwise the sane spouse may be deemed to have accepted the illness.

(9) Bigamy - An innocent spouse may have a ground for divorce based on the other’s “marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.” Miss Code Ann. § 93-5-1 (2004). A plaintiff seeking a divorce on this ground must show that the spouse was previously married and that the prior marriage was never dissolved.

(10) Pregnancy of wife at the time of marriage - A husband may obtain a divorce on the ground of “pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of such pregnancy.” Miss Code Ann. § 93-5-1 (2004). However, if the husband knows his wife-to-be is pregnant at the time of marriage, a divorce will not be available to him on this ground, even if he latter finds out that the child is not his.

(11) Kinship within the prohibited degree - If a husband and wife are related in a degree designated by Mississippi law as incestuous, then either of them my obtain a divorce. This law includes “parents, grandparents, step-parents or step-grandparents, adoptive parents, siblings, half-siblings, aunt, uncle, first cousin, or his or her child’s widow or widower.” Miss Code Ann. § 93-1-1 (2004).

(12) Incurable Insanity - A spouse may obtain a divorce from a spouse that has been committed or confined to an institution for treatment of a mental illness for at least three years

The above grounds may be alleged individually or in combination depending on the facts of the case. However due to Mississippi’s public interest in preserving marriage, Mississippi divorce courts have an ongoing duty to fully inquire into the facts and circumstances of the facts of each case before permitting divorce. As a result, divorces in Mississippi require proof of grounds (though corroborating evidence), prohibit default judgments on the pleadings, and require that the innocent party be the spouse seeking the divorce.

Call 601-607-5055 to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Jackson, Mississippi today.

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