Tag Archives: irretrievable breakdown

Marriage in Mississippi- Until Death…Irretrievable Breakdown is Dead.

A proposed bill died a quiet death in committee yesterday, the same committee that helped in the drafting and promoting it. This bill had previously passed the Senate as well…

In November, I wrote about the “word on the street” of changes coming in Family Law in Mississippi. Last summer the Mississippi Legislature assembled a blue-ribbon panel of lawyers, judges, legislators, law professors and the like to assess some of Mississippi’s more difficult or out-of-the-main-stream family law laws.

This panel suggested multiple changes with child support/age of majority and adding a 13th ground for divorce- irretrievable breakdown. This change would bring Mississippi in line with approximately 48 other states.

Part of the reason for the blue-ribbon panel was to gain insight from the practitioners, judges and persons dealing with the families this would impact. The rumor mill was that this was a done deal, was much-needed and would alleviate what one supreme court justice described as “financial blackmail.”

Yoggi Berra said it first, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Senate Bill 2643 (Miss 2022) died in Committee on March 1, 2022, when it was referred to Judiciary A, by Speaker, Philip Gun.

“4   02/10 (S) Transmitted To House
   5   03/01 (H) Referred To Judiciary A
   6   03/01 (H) Died In Committee”

Unfortunately, we may never know all of the behind-the-scenes details on why this was studied, proposed, promoted, passed, referred and allowed to whither on the vine. But, it was a much needed change in Mississippi law and one that would do more to promote family harmony than anything else the Mississippi legislature could do.

This harkens back to 2017 when a legislator single-handedly killed attempts to add domestic violence as a specific element of a cruelty based divorce and allow for the victim’s testimony to be sufficient proof of such. Once the domestic violence provision was struck the firestorm that erupted caused an about-face of the legislator and the language reappeared in another bill…lets hope for some common sense and that history repeats itself.

Matthew Thompson is a Mississippi Divorce and Civil Defense Attorney and is routing for another Change of Heart!

Changes in Family Law Coming?? (for Mississippi)

Word on the street is that some changes are coming in family law in Mississippi…

Possible changes include;

Changing the age of majority from 21 to 19.

This change involves the time period a non-custodial parent would have to provide child support and certain other child related benefits. It could impact health insurance, extra curricular expenses and school expenses- unrelated to college. The vast majority of other states is 18 or 19 years of age- for age of majority.

Another change is adding a ground for divorce if your marriage is irretrievably broken.

Irretrievable breakdown means that the marriage is broken beyond repair, this quasi-no-fault ground tells a court that at least one spouse wants to end the marriage, which generally should be enough for a judge to grant a divorce.

This is a potentially significant change and would align Mississippi divorce law with 48 other states. This change would significantly streamline the current fault vs. consent requirements.

In June of 2021, the Mississippi Legislature established this task force to study Mississippi’s domestic relations laws and to develop recommendations to the Legislature and the Mississippi Supreme Court to recommend needed changes in MS Family Law.

Members of the task force included;

• Senate Judiciary A Chairman Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula and House Judicial A Chairman Angela Cockerham of Magnolia;
• Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland, Chancellor Troy Odom of Brandon and Chancellor Jennifer Schloegel of Gulfport, appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph;
• Court of Appeals Judge David Neil McCarty of Jackson, appointed by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes;
• attorneys Mark A. Chinn of Jackson, Donna S. Smith of Columbus, A. Regnal Blackledge of Collins and Diandra Hosey of Jackson, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• attorney guardians ad litem Melissa B. DiFatta of Pascagoula and Lee Ann Turner of Starkville, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• Division of Child Support Enforcement Senior Attorney J. Michael McCauley of Bay St. Louis, appointed by Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Robert
G. Anderson;
• Professor Deborah Bell of Oxford, Senior Faculty in Service at the University of Mississippi School of Law, appointed by Dean Susan Duncan;
• Professor Shirley Kennedy of Jackson, Director of the Family and Children’s Law Center and Director of Child Advocacy Programs at Mississippi College School of Law, appointed by Dean Patricia Bennett.

Kudos to this fine group of lawyers, judges and academia for much needed changes in MS law.

Matthew Thompson is a family law and defense attorney in Mississippi and welcomes common sense changes in family law.