This is especially true in Mississippi, but only with regard to the right to marry.
Mississippi is 1 of only 2 states in the US that does not recognize a married person’s absolute right to a divorce. South Dakota is the other state. This means that in Mississippi your spouse has to agree to the divorce and ALL of the terms of the divorce (irreconcilable differences) OR you have to have Fault Grounds against your spouse that you can prove to the satisfaction of a Judge.
If there is no agreement by the spouses OR you do not have OR cannot prove fault grounds you will just stay unhappily married.
So, what happens if your spouse will not agree and you cannot prove grounds? You stay married or you move away. Those are your options.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi and can help you get out of being unhappily ever after.
Common Law Marriage was the law of the land in Mississippi until 1956.
Prior to 1956 if you lived with someone, holding yourselves out as Mr. and Mrs., for longer than a certain number of years, it made that union a valid, legal marriage.
In 1956 the Mississippi legislature ended Common Law Marriage, or at least NEW Common Law Marriages within the State. Mississippi Code § 93-1-15 was passed that required a License and solemnization for a valid marriage.
(1) No marriage contracted after April 5, 1956 shall be valid unless the contracting parties shall have obtained a marriage license … and …shall have been performed …solemniz[ation]. Failure in any case to comply with both prerequisites …shall render the purported marriage absolutely void and any children born as a result thereof illegitimate.
(2) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to affect the validity of any marriage, either ceremonial or common law, contracted prior to April 5, 1956.
Now if your Common Law Marriage was valid prior to 1956 in Mississippi and you and the Mrs. are still alive and together, then your marriage is valid. Interestingly, if you have a valid Common Law Marriage from another state Mississippi will also recognize that. 16 states still recognize Common Law Marriage according to Find Law and in the 1980’s Mississippi recognized a Common Law Marriage of a couple from Georgia. They eventually relocated to Mississippi and the wife sought and was granted a divorce. George v. George, 389 So.2d 1389 (Miss. 1980).
Don’t count on a Common Law Marriage for marital purposes, and don’t believe your “spouse” if they tell you you’re married and you have not followed the State licensure requirements.
Matthew is a family law attorney and was married using the post 1956 Mississippi methods.
This edition, in addition to bedrock family law principles, includes statutory and case law updates regarding jurisdiction, alimony, equitable division, business valuation, contempt, attorney fees, visitation, custody and de facto marriage concerns. It also includes updated, revised and new forms.