Do You Have to Give Your Husband a Divorce After a 7-Year Separation in the State of Mississippi?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Divorce is governed by each state’s laws, so Mississippi law determines when Mississippi spouses can divorce. Mississippi does not provide for legal separation, so spouses must divorce to legally divide their lives. However, a spouse is not required to give her husband a divorce in Mississippi even when they have been separated for seven years.

No-Fault Divorce

Obtaining a divorce is often more difficult in Mississippi than it is in other states because Mississippi’s laws are more restrictive. The only way one spouse can obtain a no-fault divorce in Mississippi is to file on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” but courts will not grant a divorce on this no-fault ground unless both spouses have signed a written agreement indicating they both want a divorce and either resolve all issues in the marriage or consent to having the court decide the unresolved issues. Either spouse can stop this divorce process by simply refusing to sign the agreement.

Fault Grounds

Mississippi offers many fault-based grounds for divorce, so if one spouse will not agree to a no-fault divorce, the other spouse can file a suit alleging one of the fault grounds. These grounds include habitual drunkenness, adultery, criminal conviction and drug use. Depending on the cause of a couple’s separation, several of these grounds might fit their situation. A spouse can file on the grounds of desertion for at least one year, but the spouse who left cannot use this ground.

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Incentives to Divorce

If none of the fault grounds for divorce match a spouse’s situation and the other spouse will not agree to a divorce, the spouse who wants a divorce must find a way to pressure the other spouse to allow a divorce. For example, the spouse who wants divorce can file for divorce on the grounds of habitual cruel and inhumane treatment to get the other spouse to come to court in an effort to make him understand there is no hope for reconciliation. Sometimes, spouses who did not want to give in to divorce will come to agreement once a divorce lawsuit is filed. If the spouses do reach agreement, they can proceed with a no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Spousal Maintenance

Sometimes, spouses who can’t agree on divorce must simply live separate lives while remaining married. If one spouse leaves the other without good cause, the abandoned spouse can ask the court to award separate maintenance, or alimony. The court is unlikely to award maintenance if the spouse who is asking for it is also the spouse who left or makes more money than the spouse who left. When one spouse asks for maintenance, the other spouse may change his mind about giving her a divorce. That's because it's cheaper — payments for separate maintenance are set according to a higher standard than spousal support payments in a divorce.

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Can One Mate Refuse a Divorce in North Carolina?


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Is There a Desertion Divorce Law in Mississippi?

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."

What Is a Unilateral Divorce?

Unilateral divorce describes a divorce in which one spouse terminates the marriage without the consent of the other spouse. Spouses can do this by filing for divorce on no-fault grounds, which allows couples to divorce regardless of whether the other spouse consents and without casting blame on the other spouse for the marriage coming to an end. Regardless of the state you live in, you may file for no-fault divorce.

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