Mississippi divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Mississippi
There are two main ways how to arrange your divorce. You can contest the case or not.
A Contested divorce is based on a one spouse’s misconduct. This fault ground effects on a division of property, spousal support arrangement and so on. The Petitioner is eager to prove the blame of the spouse, who tries to defend him/herself. So it’s no surprise that contested divorce may last long months and cost thousands of dollars, - you just can’t cope with it without an attorney.
An Uncontested divorce in Mississippi means that both spouses agree to divorce. They prepare in advance and try to reach an agreement on all the most controversial terms of their situation. They allocate property, rights, and liabilities and sign a Marital Settlement Agreement. They file for divorce with the "Joint Complaint for Divorce" and don’t have to participate in numerous court hearings.
Uncontested Divorce in Mississippi
Unfortunately, an Uncontested divorce in Mississippi is a suitable option not for all the couples. You should carefully estimate your ability to negotiate with your spouse honestly and constructively.
The good news is if your case is simple enough you can handle it without a lawyer. There are DIY divorce features which can help you to represent yourself before the court. In addition, an Uncontested divorce is inexpensive in the Magnolia State, and you probably can finalize the case within about 60 days.
Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi
Filing for divorce, you have to identify the reason for dissolution. You should decide whether you want to file for contested fault-based divorce or uncontested and no-fault divorce, and also to pick one of the official wording.
In Mississippi, the fault grounds for divorce are the following:
- Felony conviction (for any time).
- Desertion for at least 1 year.
- Alcohol/drug abuse.
- Cruel treatment.
- Wife’s pregnancy by another (at the time of marriage and without the husband’s knowledge).
- Hospitalization due to insanity (for 3 years).
The only no-fault ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences”. An uncontested divorce in MS is usually called “a divorce for irreconcilable differences”. This ground implies that the spouses’ desire to divorce is mutual. Unlike filing for divorce with the fault grounds, the spouses don’t have to prove this reason before the court.
Mississippi Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To be eligible to file for divorce under the Mississippi jurisdiction the couple must met the residency requirements. One of the spouses must be a resident of MS for at least 6 months before filing the Complaint for Divorce.
Also, the paperwork should be filed in the county where either spouse resides (if both of them are the state residents), or in the Petitioner’s current county (if the Defendant doesn’t reside in MS).
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Mississippi?
As it’s said above, in Mississippi, an uncontested divorce is divorce with filing a joint petition. The spouses must select the needed forms and submit them in the correct Chancery Court together. Mississippi courts websites don’t offer the divorce forms online, and in addition, every county and even court may have its specific rules. But anyway, there are some main steps needed to be taken in every uncontested divorce case. Here are they:
- Discuss all the main terms of you divorce as well as post-divorce life with your partner and make a Settlement Agreement. Sign it and notarize. It’s good if it’s prepared before filing the petition.
- Find the correct forms for your case and complete them. As you file for divorce as co-petitioners there is no need to serve your spouse spending extra time and money.
- Wait 60 days. Mississippi has a mandatory waiting period between filing the petition and a final hearing.
- Attend the final hearing. If you agreed about all the important issues and the judge approves you Settlement Agreement the divorce order will be sign. If there are some disagreements, the judge may order to settle them after the hearing, so divorce final may be delayed.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Mississippi
An uncontested divorce is still a divorce, so, surely, it’s not the easiest thing, but if you can agree with your spouse about property division, child custody, spousal support, etc - your case is considered to be simple enough. This means you can avoid litigation and huge expenses of attorneys' services. You can represent yourself before the court and finalize a divorce without a lawyer’s assistance.
Unfortunately, the Mississippi bureaucracy is quite intricate, rules and forms vary greatly from court to court, and you can’t receive the forms on the judiciary websites. In order to not miss some important details, you can use the help of our service.
We can prepare and complete your divorce forms in the shortest terms just for $149. And, most importantly, we customize the forms according to your situation and your particular court’s rules. Eventually, the correct and accurate preparation of the forms - is a significant part of an uncontested divorce.
How much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
Due to the low filing fee, Mississippi seems to be one of the cheapest states where to get an uncontested divorce. Thus, the average price for a case starts at $113, and in chancery courts of some counties, it’s even lower - $93 for an uncontested case.
Surely, some additional costs may arise depending on the case specificity. These costs may include sheriff’s fees for the serving (about $35), mediation fees (between $100 and $300 per hour and the total sum is shared between the spouses), and attorney fee, if you decided to hire a lawyer for your uncontested divorce (flat fee for basic case starts at $400 in MS).
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Mississippi?
As about all the divorce-concerning issues, the fair answer is - it all depends. The main condition that determines a divorce timeline is a mandatory 60-days waiting period after filing the Petition.
Another significant factor is whether you contest your case or not. While an uncontested divorce can be easily finalized within 60 days (or even less in certain cases), a divorce litigation may last for long months.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Mississippi
In the state of Mississippi, there are no standard kits of divorce forms, which would be actual for all counties. Although the process of divorce, in general, occurs according to the same state family law the titles and even essence of forms can vary from county to county. You should check your relevant Chancery Court to know exactly what papers you have to file.
So, remember the form's name may differ, but, roughly speaking, the list of basic docs is the following:
- Bill of Complaint for Divorce (Complaint for Divorce, Petition for Divorce - the form which states your intention to divorce, points out the ground).
- Acknowledgment, Acceptance of Service and Appearance.
- Marital Settlement Agreement.
- Financial Disclosure Statements.
- Request for Hearing.
- Notice of Hearing.
- Decree of Divorce.
Mandatory forms for the couples with children are:
- Affidavit Regarding the Children.
- Child Support Computation Worksheet.
- Child Support Guidelines.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Mississippi
If you decided to file for divorce as a sole petitioner it’s your responsibility to serve the other party with a divorce paperwork.
In Mississippi there are several ways how to deliver the copy of the Petition to your spouse:
- Foremost, you spouse can sign an acknowledgment of Acceptance of Service. He/she may file it with a chancery court clerk’s office.
- If your soon-to-be-ex refuses to accept the service you should hire the Sheriff to serve him/her.
- Process server. Mean that you may ask anyone older than 18 (and who is not involved in the case) to hand the paperwork to your spouse. But this person must complete the form, that confirms the delivery succeeded.
- And finally, you can serve your spouse via mail, but only with a return receipt.
Online Divorce in Mississippi
To submit the completed divorce forms you must visit the Clerk's Office of the chancery court, this can’t be done online yet. Nevertheless, if your divorce is uncontested you still may complete the major part of the job online. The thing is about online divorce forms preparation.
You may save a lot of time entrusting this process to the professionals, because you won't have to dig into laws, rules, and all that legal terminology. Such an online divorce company as ours need some brief data about your case in order to select the needed forms and complete it for you. You will have just to sign them and bring to the court.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Mississippi
If the couple arrange the divorce based on irreconcilable differences the spouses are welcomed to decide the custody issue independently. If they file under the fault grounds the court awards custody at its discretion, in order to ensure the children’s best interest. A lot of factors are taken into account: parenting skills of each parent, their conduct, as well as age, health conditions and special needs of the child, the stability of the home environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, child’s wishes (if the child is 12 or older), etc.
In general, there are two types of child custody:
- Physical custody. It refers with whom the child lives. Surely, the parent with a physical custody is responsible for the everyday support and care of the child.
- Legal custody. This type of custody means responsibility for the major decisions in the child’s life from upbringing methods and education to health problems, and possible emergencies.
The Physical custody usually assumes that the one parent is custodian and the non-custodial parent has visitation rights in the amount of hours/days/weeks determined by the agreement or court.
The Legal custody can be both sole or joint. Joint legal custody is a favorable option if both parents are considered to be eligible and there is no history of abuse in the family.
As for child support, both parents are assumed to contribute to their children’s welfare. An accurate amount of a child support is calculated by using the Child Support Worksheet, and each parent supports the child in proportion to their relative financial abilities.
Rules for Spousal Support in Mississippi
Although the spousal support, or alimony, is not very popular in MS, actually each spouse may ask the court to award it. There is no some special formula for alimony, so the judge considers every case individually. Trying to receive alimony, the main condition is to show your financial need, regardless of whether you’re unemployed or your income just not sufficient to support yourself. Along with it the judge considers plenty of factors that can affect the decision: each spouse's income, earning capacity, age, health condition and so on. Any fault and misconduct also influence an alimony arrangement.
There are three models of a spousal support:
- Periodic alimony. The payment from the one spouse to the other during the certain time frame. This period may be determined as some number of years, or until some circumstances would change.
- Lump sum alimony. The one-time payment usually paid at the time of divorce is granted.
- Rehabilitative alimony. The aim of this payment is to help the spouse with insufficient income to get an education and a good job, in order to support him/herself.
Division of Property in Mississippi
Mississippi is an equitable division state, that means that the couple's property must be divided in a fair (but not necessarily an equal) way.
Officially, only the common marital property should be divided, but in fact, sometimes spouses mix their personal and marital property together during the marriage with or without some reasonable purpose, so it turns to be difficult to determine the property status at the time of divorce.
Dividing the property the court takes into account such factors as each spouse’s contribution to accumulation and increasing of value of the marital property as well as each spouse’s wasting of it, the value of the separate property, the parties reasonable needs and so on.
Division of Debt in Mississippi
Marital debt must be divided along with the marital property. All the mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, and other debts should be assign to one or to both spouses.
Mississippi Supreme Court upholds the order that the spouse who collected the debt for the sake of his/her own benefit should be responsible for it. But if it’s impossible to prove someone’s “fault” each party has to pay the one-half part.
Divorce Mediation in Mississippi
Mediation is a modern and popular way to resolve the disputes. Mediation may be an alternative to litigation, or you can attend the mediation with your attorneys, and prepare for the trial in that way.
During the mediation session, the spouses meet and communicate personally, negotiating the most controversial issues of their divorce under the guidance of a qualified mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party in this discussion, he/she may act like kind of buffer between two arguing spouses. Although the mediator can’t order something, he/she really can help to find a right solution or predict the judge's decisions about parties' propositions.
Mediation is a really good bargain for those who arrange an uncontested divorce because the aim of successful mediation is to make a Settlement Agreement that will be mutually beneficial and fair for both parties. There are no losers in mediation. Both spouses who save money and nerves, as well as their children, who don’t have to participate in interrogation before the court, definitely win.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Mississippi
If you can’t locate and, therefore, to properly serve your spouse, you still can get a divorce. This process may take some time and demand some additional efforts but in fact it isn’t so complicated. This is called Divorce by Publication, or Publication Process. Here are the main steps:
- Try to find your spouse. Do your best. If the search fails, describe your efforts with a special “Affidavit of Diligent Search” form and submit it to the court.
- If the court is convinced with your attempts the clerk should issue the summons for your spouse.
- After that, the service by publication begins. You must publish the summons in the local newspaper (in the county where you file for divorce). The notice must be published three times (once per week).
- Thus, the missing spouse is considered to be served, and he/she has an additional 30 days to respond the summons.
- If your partner keeps silence, the hearing occurs without his/her participation, and the divorce is finalized in your favour. The divorce decree resolves all the issues according to your requests outlined in the Petition.
Default Divorce in Mississippi
Default Divorce means finalizing the process without the participation of a non-filing spouse. It's kind of automatic divorce in case he/she fails to answer the petition in time. In Mississippi, Default Divorce is rather a controversial concept.
Although no one can force you to remain married, and you have your right for divorce even if your spouse refuses to cooperate, but unlike most other states, in MS, you anyway must prove your grounds for divorce before the court. If you request something in the Petition, you also should defend your interests at the hearing. Divorce will be granted, but your benefit isn’t a priori assumption.
Annulment of the Marriage in Mississippi
Annulment is a terminating-marriage motion, which declares the marriage invalid from the very beginning. In the eyes of law, it’s just like if the marriage never existed at all. Unlike a divorce, you can’t annul your marriage by your wish, you must meet one or more of the certain situations - called grounds for annulment.
In Mississippi, the following marriages are subject to annulment:
- Incest (including step relations and adopted children).
- Underage marriage (parental consent is required for females in age of 12-15, males - 14-17, parental notice - for females between 15-21, males 17-21).
- Incompetence (mental incapacity. Annulment under this ground must be filed within 6 months after the marriage was registered).
- Consent to the marriage obtained by force or fraud.
- No Cohabitation (the spouses initially live apart after the marriage).
Legal Separation in Mississippi
The Mississippi courts don't offer such a motion like Legal Separation. In the Magnolia State, if the spouses don’t want to live together they file for divorce or for Separate Maintenance.
Separate Maintenance is very similar to Legal Separation process in other states. This action implies that the spouses divide their property, rights, and liabilities, and live separate and apart. Separate Maintenance doesn’t terminate the marriage.
It may be said that this legal motion exists to favor and encourage a reconciliation. The Separate Maintenance remains in force until the divorce decree enters, or, vice versa until the spouses begin to cohabit.
Same-Sex Divorce in Mississippi
Same-sex divorce is recognized in the state of Mississippi since 2014, along with the same-sex marriage.
Since then, all the spouses regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity have equal rights and must take the same steps to obtain a divorce, annulment, or to request a separate maintenance.
Military Divorce in Mississippi
If you or your spouse is a military you can file for divorce in Mississippi if you are stationed here as a service member (not only if permanently reside).
Grounds for divorce are the same as for the civil case, but there are some peculiarities concerned with the serving process. Thus, according to the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act, all the military spouses are protected from Default divorce. The military spouse (defendant) may not be served as long as he/she is on active duty plus an additional 60 days after that. Every spouse must be served with the divorce paperwork personally and should have enough time to file the response.
Under another federal law - the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, the military pension can't be divided during the divorce unless the marriage was longer than 10 years.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Mississippi
There are no special rules on how to divorce an inmate. Wherever is your spouse he/she must be properly served with a divorce paperwork, and he/she has a right to respond - either to sign an irreconcilable differences divorce or to hire an attorney and contest the case. The rest of the process will depend on you individual circumstances, so you should consult a legal.
Mississippi Divorce Filing Fee
A Filing Fee is an initial payment for every divorce case which is charged in order to cover the cost of court services. Mississippi belongs to the states with the lowest filing fees, the filing fee for uncontested divorce in MS varies by the county and in average is about $113. Additional court fees may include sheriff’s fee for serving the defendant (about $35), fees for divorce by publication, etc.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
Yes, indigent citizens who really can’t afford to pay a filing fee can be exempt from paying it. In order to waive the court fee, the petitioner must sign a relevant affidavit, which states his/her financial hardship.
It’s not only about divorce cases, fee waiving can be applied to any judicial case.
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