Mississippi recognizes two broad types of a divorce. The first is irreconcilable differences (what most people call "uncontested), and the other is a divorce based on one or more of twelve fault-based grounds: adultery, pregnancy by another at time of marriage, bigamy, habitual cruel & inhuman treatment, habitual drunkenness, habitual drug use, desertion, imprisonment, impotency, insanity at time of marriage, institutionalization for insanity, and an incestuous marriage.
Do you need a lawyer?
Technically, you don't need a lawyer for a divorce, but ask yourself, why would you want to not have a lawyer? Even "simple" uncontested divorces can involve complex points of law. Alimony, child support, and property division are likely to come up in any divorce, and the decisions you make have not just legal consequences, but possible tax consequences as well. You're going through a rough time; you need someone removed from your situation to guide you and help you make decisions.
What to look for in a lawyer
For many people, cost is the primary concern. I'm not going to say it shouldn't be a concern, but just remember, you get what you pay for. You should look for an experienced lawyer who cares about you and your case. Find out how many cases like yours the lawyer has handled. Personalities are important! You shouldn't hire a lawyer with whom you are not comfortable. If you are more comfortable with one gender over another, get a lawyer of that gender. You may be spending a lot of time with this person; it should be someone with whom you can work.
Filing the complaint & serving process.
Whether you hire a lawyer or not, the court case will officially start when you file the initial pleading, known as the complaint, with the chancery clerk.
In which county you file will depend on the type of divorce. Generally speaking, for irreconcilable differences, it has to be a county in which you or your spouse have lived for at least six months prior to filing the divorce. For a fault-based divorce, it should be the county in which the defendant (the spouse not filing for divorce) has resided for at least six months.
You will also have to pay a court filing fee which varies from county to county and whether it is an irreconcilable differences divorce or a fault-based divorce.
You will need to serve a copy on the papers on your spouse if you are getting a fault-based divorce. Generally, this is done by the sheriff.
Obtain a court date
If you have a lawyer, he or she may want to conduct discovery before obtaining a court date. This is a procedural phase in which you may obtain certain information from the other side.
If you filed an irreconcilable differences divorce, you must wait for at least sixty days, not counting the day on which you filed, before you can go to court to obtain the divorce.
In the meantime, if alimony or child support is at issue, both you and your spouse will have to complete a financial statement which must be filed on or before the day you go to court.
The court's docket is usually maintained by the judge's court administrator. You will have to consult with him or her to get a date on which to appear.
When the date rolls around, you go to court for either the trial (in a fault-based divorce) or to finalize the divorce for irreconcilable differences.
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