How to File for Divorce in Mississippi in 7 Steps

A woman is studying the issue of filing a package of documents for divorce.

Divorce is rarely a pleasant experience. In addition to possible emotional discomfort, marriage dissolution involves handling much paperwork, filing documents, and completing other tasks, which can cause confusion for people with no legal background.

With this in mind, we decided to describe a divorce process step by step for spouses to have a general plan of what to do when they want to end their marriage. This article will be particularly useful for couples who want to file for divorce in Mississippi without an attorney. Keep in mind that these are basic recommendations that will work for an uncontested divorce in Mississippi, and the article does not provide any legal advice. Therefore, if you have disagreements with your spouse or aren’t sure how to resolve specific divorce-related issues, it is better to contact a lawyer.

1. Meet the Residency Requirement

One of the first steps in Mississippi when starting a divorce is to ensure you meet residency requirements. According to law, either you or your spouse must have been living in the state for a minimum of six months.

At this point, you also need to determine whether you opt for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. The first type means that spouses want to end their marriage due to irreconcilable differences. Typically, such a divorce takes less time and money. To streamline the process, divorcing spouses usually complete a Joint Divorce Complaint and prepare a written agreement on property division, child custody and support, and other divorce-related matters.

Fault-based cases generally take longer to finalize since a petitioner has to collect evidence to support their claims. Besides, such litigation usually requires attorney involvement as the divorce may be contested, significantly increasing divorce costs. 

2. Complete the Divorce Documents

A man signs a document to file for divorce
Completing divorce documents in Mississippi can be complex and requires attention to detail to ensure all necessary information is accurately provided.

The number of divorce papers in Mississippi depends a lot on the type of divorce case. Anyway, a standard set to stick to is the following:

  • Joint Complaint for Absolute Divorce
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet
  • Financial Statement
  • Marital Settlement Agreement

Spouses with minor children also need to prepare:

  • Child Support Worksheet
  • Parenting Plan

Please note that the list is not final. If you opt for a fully DIY approach, you have to find and fill out case-specific papers on your own. You may find the forms on the court website, though not all of them are available online. Alternatively, you can collect blank templates of Mississippi court forms from a court clerk.

Some spouses don’t want to manage complicated paperwork themselves, so they either delegate this task to a lawyer or order documents from credible online services. The option to prepare divorce papers online is gaining popularity among couples applying for an uncontested, no-fault divorce. The main advantages of online services are reasonable prices, fast turnaround, and absolute confidentiality. Besides, you will receive divorce papers that fully reflect your case specifics.

3. File Divorce Forms

Once all divorce forms are ready, you must file them with the court to officially start the divorce process.

If you apply for an uncontested, no-fault marriage dissolution, you can submit divorce forms to the Chancery Court Clerk in the county where either you or your spouse resides. If you begin a fault-based case, it is necessary to file for divorce in Mississippi in the county where a defendant lives. If the defendant isn’t a Mississippi resident or you don’t know their current location, you can file in the county where you reside.

In some counties, it is possible to file divorce papers online. However, it is reasonable to clarify in advance with a court clerk whether this option is available in your county.

When submitting divorce forms, you have to pay a filing fee, which is $148 for uncontested and $158 for contested marriage dissolution. If you can’t afford to pay this sum, you can ask the court to waive it by filing a Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. You’ll need to prove that your funds are insufficient to cover this fee.

4. Serve Your Spouse with Documents

After filing for divorce in MS, it is necessary to serve copies of the forms to your spouse. It is one of those steps in divorce process that has a predefined timeframe. Remember to complete the task within 120 days from the moment of filing. You can deliver papers in several ways:

  • Hand over or mail the forms personally if the defendant will sign an Acknowledgement of Service.
  • Hire a process server or a sheriff who will deliver papers to your spouses. The cost of such services varies across counties.
  • Ask an 18-year-old third party to deliver documents.
  • If you can’t find the defendant, upon court permission, you can choose publication in a newspaper as a method to inform the other party about the initiated divorce case.

5. Await the Response

The woman received a response from her husband after filing for divorce
In a divorce in Mississippi, you must allow a reasonable time for the other party to respond, but the specific waiting period can vary based on the circumstances and legal requirements.

A defendant has 30 days to prepare and file a response to a Complaint. In the Answer, the responding party can either agree with or contest anything mentioned in the Complaint. When filing a “counter-claim,” a defendant needs to detail their requests related to property division, alimony, etc.

During an uncontested divorce process in Mississippi, when spouses are on amicable terms and file together, they can skip this step.

6. Finalize the Divorce

Spouses that file for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences have to wait a 60-day waiting period before their marriage can be legally ended. Such divorces are usually less stressful as partners who fill out a Joint Complaint for Divorce and a Written Settlement Agreement may not be required to attend court hearings. The judge will review their papers and will grant a divorce.

Those involved in a highly contested divorce may have to wait much longer till their marriage is terminated. That happens because the judge has to study multiple documents submitted by the parties to make a fair decision on property and debt division, child custody and support, and alimony if required. In general, the more disputes a couple has to resolve, the more time and money they have to spend. Court proceedings are one of the longest stages of divorce.

7. Obtain the Divorce Decree

In uncontested cases, parties can get a final divorce decree in Mississippi after the waiting period ends and the judge approves their settlement agreement. In contested marriage dissolution, spouses are officially divorced only after all disputable topics are resolved. So, if you want to get a divorce in Mississippi with minimum time and financial expenses, you should do all possible to reach an agreement outside the court. Of course, you may need to use the assistance of skilled mediators or other ADR specialists, but it is still more advantageous than participating in multiple hearings. 

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