Uncontested Divorce in Mississippi
There are two primary options for the dissolution of a marriage: contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot agree about dividing marital property, resolving spousal support and child-related issues, or any other essential terms of their divorce case. Thus, the divorce process may involve a series of court appearances or even a trial continuing until the spouses sort these issues out or the judge makes a decision.
- In an uncontested divorce process, the parties must settle all their differences in a non-adversarial manner and draft a Marital Settlement Agreement. This contract should cover divorce terms, including child support award, child custody, property division, and spousal support. The judge can enter a final judgment of divorce once they review the couple's agreement and find it fair and sufficient.
Thus, uncontested divorces typically take less time than litigated proceedings. Besides, Mississippi Family Law provides for a simplified uncontested divorce process, also known as "irreconcilable differences divorce," allowing spouses to file for divorce jointly as co-plaintiffs.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Although couples filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences can often handle the process without contacting a law firm, they might still find completing Mississippi divorce forms difficult. Selecting and preparing all the necessary divorce papers can take a lot of time. The spouses may need to go to the Chancery Court Clerk's office and read through Mississippi Code, local court requirements, and their particular legal rights and obligations to complete their divorce forms correctly and avoid case delays.
DivorceOnline.com offers a simple way to be free from such problems and save money. Our online divorce services are available to all couples pursuing an uncontested divorce for just $139. We do not sell blank forms for that price but help our users to prepare for the filing process, from selecting the necessary divorce papers to filling them out following Mississippi divorce laws and the specific county's requirements. After providing us with your case details through the online interview, you can receive your unique ready-to-file completed divorce forms in only two business days. You'll also get comprehensive written instructions you need to file for divorce without a hassle.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Mississippi
The Mississippi divorce process takes several consecutive steps.
For a couple to be eligible to terminate the marriage in Mississippi, at least one spouse must have been a state resident for at least six months before filing a divorce petition.
Mississippi Family Law provides for both no-fault and fault grounds for divorce. A no-fault divorce occurs when you and your spouse agree to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. A fault-based divorce occurs if the party, complaining of the defendant (the plaintiff), alleges and proves one of the following grounds for divorce:
- Intellectual disability (given the fact that the plaintiff did not know of the condition before the marriage);
- Criminal conviction and imprisonment;
- Desertion, i.e., willful abandonment for at least one year without consent;
- Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse;
- Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment;
- Wife pregnant by another person at the time of the marriage (given the fact that the plaintiff was not aware of it before the marriage); and
- Incurable insanity (given that the spouse has been under regular treatment and confined in an institution for at least three years before starting a divorce action).
To start a divorce in Mississippi, the plaintiff (or both spouses jointly) must file a divorce complaint and other completed divorce papers with the Chancery Court Clerk's office in the county where either spouse resides.
Divorce papers in Mississippi
Even a simplified no-fault divorce upon the Joint Complaint requires proper paperwork, which varies from county to county and depends on the couple's unique circumstances. However, the most common Mississippi divorce forms needed to begin a case include:
- Bill of Complaint for Divorce / Joint Complaint for Absolute Divorce
- Financial Statement
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Acknowledgment, Acceptance of Service and Appearance
If the plaintiff has any complications with their divorce paperwork, they may use DivorceOnline.com to correctly prepare the required uncontested divorce forms in only two business days.
The plaintiff must pay a mandatory court filing fee when filing divorce papers. The standard cost for filing for divorce is about $150 in Mississippi, but it can vary slightly from county to county. Besides, the plaintiff may need to pay additional fees for the service of the process. The exact amount is available at the Mississippi Judiciary government website.
Mississippi requires a mandatory 60-day waiting period before a court can enter a divorce decree in a no-fault uncontested divorce. However, for a fault-based divorce, there is no waiting period.
Couples filing for divorce upon the Joint Complaint skip this step, while a regular divorce requires the plaintiff to serve divorce papers to the defendant within 120 days after the filing. In Mississippi, the service of process can be accomplished by:
- any adult person who is not a party to the case;
- professional process server; or
- by certified mail (return receipt requested).
According to the law, once the 60-days waiting period has expired, an uncontested no-fault divorce can be finalized. The spouses typically are not required to attend a court hearing. Instead, the judge will only review their submitted Mississippi divorce papers and Settlement Agreement. If everything is completed correctly and the agreement is "adequate and sufficient," the court grants a divorce.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In a Mississippi divorce, parental rights and responsibilities over minor children can be determined by the parents' agreement or at the court's discretion. Anyway, all child-related issues, including child custody, visitation, and child support, must be decided following the child's best interest. So, Mississippi courts consider multiple factors to determine what form of custody would be in the child's best interests in a particular case. These factors are as follows:
- the child's age, health, and sex;
- the parents' mental and physical health;
- each spouse's moral fitness and parenting skills;
- both parents' willingness and ability to provide primary child care;
- which parent was the primary caregiver for the child during the marriage;
- the child's own preferences, given that the child is of sufficient age to express a preference by law (12 years or older);
- both parents' employment and respective responsibilities;
- the child's relationship with each parent
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and
- and other factors the court may deem relevant.
Mississippi Family Law presumes that joint custody is in the child's best interest unless proven otherwise. Joint custody can be applied to either legal or physical custody, where legal custody refers to the decision-making authority of each parent, and physical custody determines where the child lives and which parent takes care of the child on a daily basis.
As for child support, Mississippi standard child support guidelines apply in most cases unless the court finds that using these guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. These guidelines show what percentage of the non-custodial parent's adjusted gross income should be awarded for support depending on the number of children. Since Mississippi's age of majority is older than most states, the duty to pay child support typically continues until the child turns 21.
The following additional court forms are provided for divorcing parents:
- Affidavit Regarding the Children
- Child Support Computation Worksheet
- Mississippi Child Support Guidelines
Filing for Divorce in Mississippi Without a Lawyer
- The main advantage of an uncontested divorce upon a Joint Complaint is that it can be arranged with little legal advice or even without a lawyer at all.
- Mississippi laws allow divorcing spouses to represent themselves in a divorce case. Therefore, if the parties are ready to negotiate and work together towards mutually beneficial solutions, they can avoid excessive legal fees.
- Instead of hiring a full-service attorney, the spouses seeking an uncontested divorce can resort to counseling, divorce mediation, or unbundled legal services (to get specific advice on a single issue). And those who need some help with paperwork can use online divorce services.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Mississippi
DIY divorce without a lawyer is a beneficial option for the spouses who have prepared a Settlement Agreement for court approval and are willing to sign the Joint Complaint for Divorce. And online divorce services can help make this process even more straightforward for those who do not want to grapple with paperwork on their own.
DivorceOnline.com is a reliable tool to select and complete all the required court forms from the comfort of your home. Our online service provides only the relevant Mississippi divorce papers and helps to fill them out properly. You can receive your documents in only two business days, along with comprehensive filing instructions for starting the action in your local court.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The minimum time for an uncontested divorce in Mississippi is 60 days from filing the petition due to the mandatory waiting period. However, even simple divorce cases typically take a little bit more time because there are a lot of additional factors affecting the length of the process, including court backlogs and the unique circumstances of each couple. Even though fault-based divorces do not require a waiting period, they usually take much longer, involving multiple court hearings.
The cost of divorce in Mississippi starts with the court filing fee. Still, other expenses depend on many factors, including whether the spouses contest the case and whether they hire a lawyer or arrange a DIY divorce. Legal fees usually make up the lion's share of divorce costs. For example, an average flat fee charged for uncontested divorces in Mississippi is $900. However, the spouses can reduce divorce costs by using affordable online divorce services to prepare for the filing process.
If the plaintiff cannot afford the court filing fee, they may ask the court to be exempt from payment by requesting In Forma Pauperis and filing the relevant form. The court will consider the applicant's financial situation to decide if they qualify for a fee waiver.
Mississippi divorce forms include but are not limited to Bill of Complaint for Divorce / Joint Complaint for Absolute Divorce, Verification, Financial Statement, Marital Settlement Agreement, Civil Cover Sheet, Acknowledgment, Acceptance of Service and Appearance, Decree of Divorce.