There's no doubt that getting divorced can be painful. But it doesn't have to ruin your finances along the way. If you're able to sit down with your soon-to-be ex and work out agreements on the key issues involved in ending your marriage, you can save money, time, and stress with an uncontested divorce. In fact, Mississippi allows qualifying couples to file a joint divorce petition (known as a "complaint") and get their final divorce in as little as two months—without going to court.
This article explains Mississippi's simplified uncontested divorce process, including how to qualify and file your paperwork.
First, in order to get any kind of divorce in Mississippi, you must meet the residency requirement. Either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for the six-month period just before you started the divorce process. (Miss. Code § 93-5-5 (2021).)
Next, the two of you must reach a marital settlement agreement before you can file a joint complaint for an uncontested divorce. The agreement should cover all of the key issues involved in ending your marriage, including:
Mississippi's simplified divorce process is sometimes known as an "irreconcilable differences divorce," because you and your spouse must also agree that those differences are the legal reason (or "ground") for the end of your marriage—as opposed to one of the other grounds for divorce in Mississippi that are based on claims of misconduct. (Miss. Code § 93-5-2 (2021).)
Many couples find that they can get this type of divorce without hiring lawyers, either all on their own or by using an online divorce service. But you might consider getting a lawyer's help with preparing your settlement agreement—or at least reviewing it, to make sure it protects your legal rights and covers all the bases. You might also want to speak with a lawyer if you're not sure about how to handle complex issues like dividing retirement accounts or a family business.
You can file for a Mississippi divorce based on irreconcilable differences even if you haven't been able to agree about all the issues by the time you start the divorce process. In that situation, however, you'll need to follow all the steps for Mississippi's regular divorce procedures and sign a consent to have a judge make a decision about any contested issues. (Miss. Code § 93-5-2 (2021).)
Still, you might be able to avoid the extra time, stress, and expense of a trial if you eventually reach a complete settlement agreement (maybe with the help of mediation and/or divorce lawyers). But the process typically takes longer, and ongoing disputes can add a lot to the cost of divorce.
Once you and your spouse have reached your settlement agreement, you'll need to gather and complete all of the required forms, including the joint divorce complaint.
Unlike many states, Mississippi doesn't provide statewide downloadable forms online. Instead, you'll need to get the correct forms from the Chancery Court Clerk's office in the county where you'll file for divorce—where either you or your spouse lives (Miss. Code § 93-5-11 (2021)).
The other option is to use an online divorce service that will provide you with the proper completed forms after you answer a series of questions about your situation.
Once your paperwork is complete, submit it to the court clerk's office for filing. The clerk should provide you with a case number. Be sure to keep a copy of your filed paperwork and your case number handy. There will be a filing fee (which varies by county), but you can ask for the application form for a waiver if you can't afford pay the fee.
After you've filed your joint complaint based on irreconcilable differences, Mississippi has a 60-day waiting period before your uncontested divorce can be finalized. You generally won't need to attend a hearing. Rather, a judge will review your settlement agreement and other paperwork. As long as the agreement is "adequate and sufficient"—meaning that it's fair to both spouses, covers all of the required issues, and is in the best interests of any minor children—the judge grant your divorce and incorporate the agreement in the divorce judgment. (Miss. Code § 93-5-2 (2021).)