Is There a Desertion Divorce Law in Mississippi?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Mississippi law permits spouses to obtain a divorce based on desertion, but only under certain circumstances. If your spouse leaves you without your consent, you may feel deserted, but to obtain a divorce based on his desertion, you must be able to prove your spouse’s behavior was "willful, continued and obstinate."

Mississippi law permits spouses to obtain a divorce based on desertion, but only under certain circumstances. If your spouse leaves you without your consent, you may feel deserted, but to obtain a divorce based on his desertion, you must be able to prove your spouse’s behavior was "willful, continued and obstinate."

Grounds

Mississippi courts can only grant your divorce if you provide grounds, or a reason, for the divorce. Mississippi offers twelve possible grounds for fault-based divorce: impotence, adultery, incarceration, desertion, habitual drunkenness, habitual drug use, cruelty, mental illness, bigamy, pregnancy by someone else at the time of the marriage, blood relationship to your spouse, and insanity at the time of marriage. Mississippi courts can also grant a no-fault divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” between you and your spouse, but only if you both agree to the divorce.

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Desertion as Grounds

In Mississippi, the ground of desertion is more than just your spouse moving out. His absence must last continuously for at least a year and the desertion must be “willful, continued and obstinate.” This may include your spouse's refusal to support or help you financially. Additionally, your spouse must intend to leave the marriage, not just to physically leave, so if your spouse moved for work purposes and intends to return, his absence may not qualify as desertion.

Proving Desertion

If you accuse your spouse of deserting you, you must be able to prove it by a preponderance of evidence, which means you must prove it is more likely than not that your spouse deserted you. You must also prove the desertion lasted at least a year, your spouse left with the intention of ending your marriage and you did not consent to the separation. If you cannot prove all of these things through testimony, documents or other evidence, the court cannot grant you a divorce based on desertion grounds.

Reconciliation and Constructive Desertion

In Mississippi, your spouse can end the desertion by offering to reconcile with you, so if he offers to reconcile within one year of leaving, you cannot qualify for divorce based on desertion. If you leave your home to avoid violent or other extremely abusive conduct, you may still qualify as the deserted spouse even though you were the one who left. This is called constructive desertion.

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The 12 Grounds for a Divorce in Mississippi

References

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Illinois Divorce on the Grounds of Abandonment

Although Illinois law no longer punishes spouses for abandonment, the state does allow divorce on the grounds of desertion. However, even when one spouse deserted the other, many couples still file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, meaning that neither spouse is at fault. Apart from child custody, the grounds for divorce typically do not have much impact on the final divorce decree, which includes spousal maintenance, property division and child support.

Desertion Penalty in a Maryland Divorce

When a relationship goes through a difficult time or reaches an end, a husband or wife may decide to leave the marital home. If one spouse leaves or abandons the other, desertion may become a legal issue if the couple divorces in Maryland. In some cases, spousal desertion can penalize a spouse in alimony, property and other divorce-related legal issues.

How to Prove Desertion in a Divorce

If your spouse walked out on you, and if you want to base your divorce case on his wrongdoing, you may attempt to prove it during the divorce proceedings, unless you live in a state that does not recognize any fault grounds. There are much easier ways to get a divorce than by proving desertion, however. All states have provisions for no-fault grounds, which rarely require that you prove any wrongdoing.

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