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Grounds for divorce in Mississippi

In Mississippi, marriage is considered a contract between two parties who agree on their rights and obligations under the contract. When parties wish to end the contract, they must seek a divorce decree from a judge. A divorce decree ends both the marital contract and the relationship. In some cases, when both parties agree to divorce, a no-fault divorce is appropriate and all that remains is for the parties to work out matters like property division and child custody.

In other cases, however, one party may wish to sue for a divorce on their own. This is known as a contested divorce. To initiate a contested divorce, the suing party must allege one of the twelve recognized grounds for divorce in Mississippi in their petition. A judge will ultimately determine whether or not to grant the divorce.

Certain pre-existing conditions, if not known at the time of marriage, can be grounds for divorce. These include natural impotency, "insanity" or "idiocy." These refer to the inability to father children or mental health issues on the part of either spouse. If a woman was pregnant and carrying the child of a man who is not her spouse at the time of marriage, it is also grounds for divorce.

Desertion, which is the willful abandonment of the marriage for at least a year, and adultery are also reasons for which a spouse may file for divorce. Incarceration, chronic mental illness that develops after marriage and habitual "cruel and inhuman treatment" - such as domestic abuse - are grounds that may be alleged, as are bigamy and incest.

A spouse may also sue for divorce if the other spouse is habitually drunk or uses drugs excessively. The suing spouse must demonstrate these grounds by clear and convincing evidence. The suing spouse must also show that this conduct has a negative impact on the marriage.

Source:, "Mississippi Code Title 93. Domestic Relations § 93-5-1. Causes allowed," accessed April 3, 2018

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