Tag Archives: abandonment

Divorce Floodgates; Why Mississippi Will Always be Backwards and Our “Leaders” are Leading the Way.

Mississippi is again the butt of the joke, the laughingstock, and the backwards looking, Buckle of the Bible-belt, and proud of it.


Go Get My Belt

The Mississippi legislature has refused to “open the floodgates of divorce.” This is demonstrated by the recent deaths of two bills. One, providing an additional ground for divorce if your spouse commits Domestic Violence against you, and the second casualty, adding “two years of actual separation” as a fault ground.

A Change of Heart

Who killed it?  The whole legislature is not to blame (or take credit). Both bills passed the Senate. Mississippi House of Representative, Andy Gipson, takes the credit for killing Senate Bill 2703. This is the bill that added Domestic Violence as a ground. Gipson would not even allow the merits of the bill to be considered for discussion in the House. Gipson told the Clarion Ledger “[w]e need to have policies that strengthen marriage. If a person is abusive, they need to have a change in behavior and change of heart.” Gipson went on to add that current, existing law covers the proposed changes rendering it unnecessary and that the change would “open the floodgates” of divorce. Gipson’s rationale relied upon contradictory points. Gipson argued out of both sides of his mouth.

However, Gipson is wrong. The current, existing law requires proof of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. Habitual means constant. It is quite likely that one conviction for Domestic Violence would not be grounds for divorce in a large majority of Mississippi’s divorce Courts. The law provides that for one instance to be enough it has to be physically severe. Interestingly, one conviction is enough to provide that the offender can never possess a gun, ever again, but it does not provide that the spouse-victim can get a divorce.

Gipson provided no means for this change of heart either.

Don’t Go Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game

State Senator Chris McDaniel put in his two cents, as well. As he voted against the proposal to add two years of bona fide, actual separation as an additional ground for divorce, which Gipson also killed. McDaniel stated that “given the state is in the marriage and divorce business, lawmakers shouldn’t be changing the terms of the contract midstream.” This comment literally means that he believes that people seeking to marry fully contemplate the 12 fault grounds for divorce, the Court’s burden of proof to establish same with corroborating witnesses and evidence, and then and only then enter into a marital contract. Ridiculous.

We’re Not Last in Something

Every state except Mississippi and South Dakota provide for a true No-Fault divorce process. This means that in the 48 other states, and the District of Columbia, if you are a resident and want a divorce you get a divorce. According to the Center for Disease Control, Mississippi is tied for the 15th highest divorce rate, per capita, in the United States. That means that over 30 states have a lower divorce rate than Mississippi, despite it being infinitely easier to gain a divorce in those states. Floodgates be damned.

“If You Ain’t First, Your’re Last” – Ricky Bobby

Mississippi is perennially last in every “good” category and first in the “bad” categories. Our head-in-the-sand “leaders” seem to be doing their best to keep us there. Mississippi ranks last in education for high-school graduation, last in school performance , one of the highest unemployment rates, and 49th in teen pregnancy rate. We are also statistically more obese, worse drivers and will die sooner. Maybe that last one is good?

But it Just Enriches Lawyers

I am a divorce lawyer. The current, existing laws only serve to enrich lawyers, not protect families. Our Courts, and man’s law, cannot make people love each other and cannot make people live together. The proposed law change, making divorce law make sense, would make it less lucrative to be a divorce lawyer. But, it’s still the right thing to do. While Gipson and McDaniel are both lawyers, the majority of our legislature is not. Only about 32% of the entire legislature are lawyers. 48 or so, out of 152. It is not a bunch of lawyers running amok. However, 45% of our legislature are Baptists. Some 69 or so, including Gipson and McDaniel. Even if, at best, this is not about money, it means that this is about forcing your subjective beliefs on someone else. Remember, this Country was founded upon religious freedoms. It is in the Constitution.

The Bottom Line

Why should you care? Because the current law promotes divorce blackmail. Divorces are a necessary “evil” of life and marriage. Divorce is rooted in the Bible and while it is despised, it is allowed for adultery, abandonment, abuse and adultery of the heart. The heart that needs to be changed is the heart of a lawmaker that seeks to keep a just-enough-abused, but not too much, spouse in a loveless “marriage.” That is not a marriage. The floodgates are already open. The law change actually serves to help and protect those that we are commanded to help and to protect.

Matthew Thompson is an opinionated divorce lawyer, adjunct professor that teaches family law, author of Mississippi Divorce, Alimony and Child Support, a native Mississippian and proud of all of the above.


What is a “Biblical Divorce?”

I hear this term a lot, “Biblical divorce.”

Arvind Balaraman

Most commonly it means having the fault ground of Adultery as the basis for the divorce. It is widely held that this is the only “Biblical Ground” for divorce and absent Adultery you cannot or should not get a divorce.

“Biblical grounds” can also include abuse and abandonment, depending upon your denomination.  These, adding to the list the reasons that a divorce may be allowed.

Interestingly, the Bible also states “I say to you that everyone who looks at a another with lust has already committed adultery  in his heart.” Mt. 5:28 This expresses the idea that lust for another, not your spouse, is “Biblical Grounds” for divorce.

Divorce is something no one really plans for (prenups notwithstanding). It is something that is routinely despised yet,  it is also sometimes very necessary.

If you are struggling with issues of Divorce contact your clergy, counselor, or even an experienced family law attorney.  They may well help you with your struggles.

Matthew Thompson is an Attorney practicing Family Law in Mississippi and may can help you.

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Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or more information on Child Custody and Divorce. (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.


Abandoned, Deserted, Left…

Desertion is one spouse’s willful abandonment of the marriage for at least 1 year without consent, just cause, excuse, or intention to return.

arztsamui /freedigitalphotos.net

More commonly called abandonment, being left or just plain dumped, desertion is more than just a fight he or she leaving for the weekend.  It has to be for 1 year.  That is 365 days!  Also, the party that did not leave, cannot be materially at fault for the other person leaving.  This means you cannot kick him out, then sue for divorce, with no other intervening events.

Desertion can also occur even with no one leaving the house.  The “deserted” spouse must demonstrate that he/she did not consent to the “leaving of the relationship” and that a willingness to renew the relationship was refused by the deserting partner. However, if the deserting spouse makes a good faith offer to return and the other spouse then refuses, the refusing party could become the deserter.

Finally, there is a concept known as “constructive desertion.”  This occurs when the conduct of one spouse is so bad that it forces the other party to leave.  The above requirements still apply as far as the timing and that it could be prevented by a good faith offer of reconciliation.

Desertion is a viable fault ground for divorce, but it must be proven to the satisfaction of the Court and can devolve into a “he said, she said.”  Also, just because one spouse leaves it does not mean the other spouse gets all the property.  If the Court awards a divorce then a property split will also be done.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney in Hinds County, Mississippi and if you’ve been left high and dry it may be time to get down and dirty.

Follow the blog: #BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law case or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms