The divorce rate in the area around Ridgeland, Mississippi currently hovers at around thirteen (13) percent. However, the state as a whole has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. If you are considering the dissolution of a marriage, it is important to be aware that Mississippi is one of only two remaining states that do not have an explicit no-fault divorce provision. This means that getting a divorce can be much more complicated than in other parts of the country, and it may be more expensive than the spouses may anticipate. At the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt, our experienced Ridgeland divorce lawyer can help you smoothly navigate the process of a contested or uncontested agreed divorce.The Basic Divorce Process in Mississippi
Most states allow either spouse in a marriage to file for a no fault divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences, which simply means that the marriage is not working out. However, in Mississippi, a divorce can be based on irreconcilable differences only if both spouses agree to the divorce. This is known as an agreed or uncontested divorce, since neither spouse objects. When only one spouse seeks a divorce or there is no agreement, that spouse must be able to identify marital misconduct or a “fault” in the marriage that serves as the basis for the divorce, which makes divorce much more complicated in Mississippi than it may be in other states. This type of divorce is called a contested divorce in Mississippi.
To qualify for a contested divorce in Mississippi, the spouse seeking the divorce must allege one or more fault based grounds in his or her divorce complaint and offer evidence of said grounds at trial. In Mississippi, these “fault” or “contested” grounds include impotency, adultery, bigamy, criminal conviction, habitual alcoholism, habitual drug abuse, hospitalization due to insanity, cruel and inhumane treatment, and desertion. As one can imagine, these narrow grounds can be difficult to assert and even more challenging to prove in court in Mississippi.
While a divorce that is contested may turn out to be a relatively complex process due to detailed issues of child custody or high asset property division, other divorces may be relatively straightforward and simple. With an irreconcilable differences divorce, the spouses can file in any county where either spouse lives. A contested or fault based Complaint for Divorce must be filed with the court and served on the other spouse. Both spouses will also be required to exchange 8.05 Financial Statements detailing their finances. If the spouses agree, they can then complete a Marital Dissolution Agreement (MDA), which essentially acts as a contract between the spouses detailing the divorce. This MDA will typically be adopted by the judge when issuing a Final Judgment in the case.
If there is significant property that must be distributed between the spouses during the divorce, the spouses may mutually agree on how the property will be divided in their MDA, or a judge will consider each party’s proposition and make a final determination. In Mississippi, there is a presumption that marital property should be divided equitably, but this does not necessarily mean equally.
When minor children are involved, additional matters that may need to be addressed include child support and child custody. In Mississippi, there are two types of custody; physical and legal custody. Sole physical and legal custody may be given to one parent when the court finds that to be in the best interest of the minor children, or joint physical and legal custody maybe awarded to the parties. There are various ways that child custody may be structured in Mississippi. In the event sole custody or even joint custody is awarded, child support may also be granted so that support is shared between the spouses until a child reaches the age of majority. Again, the parties can work out the details of custody and child support on their own with the assistance of an attorney, or, if they are unable to agree, they can look to a judge for guidance.Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Ridgeland
Even in the simplest of divorces, in which the spouses agree on the necessity of the divorce and are willing to work together to reach a fair outcome, divorce routinely poses certain challenges. Often, one word can change the entire meaning of a term within the MDA that will have lasting consequences. Moreover, specific procedures must be followed in Madison County courts, and the spouses must be careful to consider and cover the possible issues that might arise afterward. For these reasons, hiring an experienced Ridgeland divorce attorney is a critical first step in successfully handling your divorce. We are experienced divorce attorneys in Mississippi and we can help you navigate the perils involved in the divorce process. If you have questions about the Mississippi divorce process, or if you want to make sure that your rights are adequately protected, contact the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt online or at (601) 607-5055.