The Mississippi Legislature amended the Fault Grounds for divorce last term to include spousal domestic violence and tweaked the corroboration requirement. The current Fault Grounds for Divorce are below. You only need one.
Divorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for any one or more of the following twelve (12) causes:
Second.Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.
Third. Being Sentenced to any Penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.
Fourth.Willful, Continued and Obstinate Desertion for the space of one (1) year.
Sixth.Habitual and Excessive use of Opium, Morphine or other like Drug.
Seventh.Habitual Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, including Spousal Domestic Abuse.
Spousal Domestic Abuse may be established through the reliable testimony of a single credible witness, who may be the injured party, and includes, but is not limited to:
That the injured party’s spouse attempted to cause, or purposely, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to the injured party, or that the injured party’s spouse attempted by physical menace to put the injured party in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; or
That the injured party’s spouse engaged in a pattern of behavior against the injured party of threats or intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse, forced isolation, sexual extortion or sexual abuse, or stalking or aggravated stalking as defined in Section 97-3-107, if the pattern of behavior rises above the level of unkindness or rudeness or incompatibility or want of affection.
Eighth.Having Mental Illness or an intellectual disability at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of that infirmity.
Ninth.Marriage to some other Person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.
Tenth.Pregnancy of the wife by another Person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of the pregnancy.
Eleventh. Either party may have a divorce if they are Related to each other within the Degrees of Kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.
Twelfth.Incurable Mental Illness. However, no divorce shall be granted upon this ground unless the party with mental illness has been under regular treatment for mental illness and causes thereof, confined in an institution for persons with mental illness for a period of at least three (3) years immediately preceding the commencement of the action… (see statute for complete description).
One of the most claimed grounds for divorce is Adultery. Actually, the statue refers to it as “Uncondoned Adultery.” What, you ask, is Uncondoned Adultery? That is adultery that has not been “forgiven.”
Condonation is “legal forgiveness.” This happens when the aggrieved spouse knows of the fault and decides to reconcile with the other party. You resumed living together as husband and wife, had sex and otherwise tried to make it work.
Once this occurs you no longer have grounds for divorce based on Adultery. Even if it didn’t work!
There are a few strings attached, however. The guilty spouse must, in “good faith” attempt the reconciliation. Additionally, the aggrieved spouse can only forgive what they know about. If there were multiple affairs and all were not disclosed there may still exist fault grounds, whether they are aware of it or not. Also, if the adultery is repeated it revives the grounds for divorce.
Condonation is a difficult issues to wrestle with in divorce. The Court must consider the knowledge of the aggrieved spouse, the intent of the guilty spouse, the effort(s) to reconcile – whether they are in good faith. All these are fact specific and subjective determinations to be made by the Court.
Matthew Thompson is a divorce attorney in Mississippi and cautions you that some lawyers will advise the guilty party to do or say whatever is necessary to get the other party back in bed, for “reconciliation,” so that the defense of Condonation may be used.