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Grounds for divorce and no-fault divorce

In the past, divorces were commonly resolved through trials. To end a marriage, one spouse would have to petition the court and show grounds for divorce. The two parties would then argue in court, trying to convince the judge to dissolve the marriage. If the court agreed to the divorce, it would oversee child custody, division of property and other issues.

Today, most Mississippi divorces are settled out of court, and neither spouse needs to show the other did anything wrong. This is known as a no-fault divorce. In most such divorces, the spouses negotiate a settlement to resolve the division of property, child custody and other issues in accordance with state law, and file the paperwork with the court.

If one party objects

Still, there are some cases where the person requesting the divorce must show grounds for it. This occurs in cases where one party objects to the divorce or does not respond to the other spouse’s request.

In these cases, the spouse who wants the divorce must show one or more grounds. Mississippi recognizes 12 grounds for divorce, including abandonment of one year or more, adultery and incarceration.

The most common grounds cited is habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. Mississippi defines this narrowly, meaning that to be sufficient as grounds for divorce the treatment must endanger the spouse’s life, limb or health, or at least create a reasonable fear that it will do so.

The advantages of no-fault

No doubt many people going through a divorce relish the thought of telling a courtroom why they were in the right and their ex was in the wrong, but there are many drawbacks to resolving a divorce through trial. For one, it takes a long time. For another, court fees and other costs make the process expensive.

By contrast, with the help of an experienced attorney, it is faster and usually less expensive to settle a divorce out of court. What’s more, resolving issues through negotiation gives the parties greater control over their outcomes, and it tends to lower the overall level of tension and animosity. This can be especially important when the divorce parties have young children, and will have to continue to work together on childcare issues for years to come.


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