Skip to main site content.
Rep. Andy Gipson (Twitter)

‘No reform’

Proposal to include domestic violence as grounds for divorce rejected by Mississippi Senate

March 2, 2017

A bill seeking to add domestic violence to the list of legal reasons a person can cite when seeking a divorce in Mississippi was rejected by a House committee this week on the grounds that doing so could open the “floodgates” to more divorces, according to Republican state Representative Andy Gipson.

Getting a divorce in Mississippi is an arduous process, to say the least. One of only two states that still doesn’t have a “no fault” divorce law — the other is South Dakota — individuals seeking a divorce there must either provide one of 12 grounds outlined in the state’s onerous law, and provide extensive evidence to support their cases, or else persuade their partner to agree to every term of the divorce settlement, including child custody and finances.

Proponents of reform have long argued that the current law puts lives at risk, specifically victims of domestic violence who can find themselves trapped in abusive marriages. Although victims of abuse can attempt to get a divorce on the grounds of “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment,” experts say, such claims can be difficult for victims to prove, especially in incidences of non-violent abuse.

While a similar bill was killed off in the Senate last year, the lawmakers pushing for reform were hopeful that this time they would get it passed into law.

Defending the decision, Committee Chairman Andy Gipson said, “If there’s a case of abuse that person needs to have change of behavior and a serious change of heart … Hopefully even in those cases restoration can happen.” He went on to argue that the bill failed to adequately define what constitutes domestic violence, so that every and any couple would have grounds for divorce if the law was changed.

Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention, told local news station WDAM that the current law poses a serious problem, since it stipulates that the abuse had to be witnessed by another person if it was to be used as grounds for divorce. Given that abuse predominantly happens behind closed doors, that provision is of little help to victims.

Read the full story at The Huffington Post.


Why it took this woman nearly 15 years to divorce her husband

Judge denounced for ruling woman is not allowed to divorce her husband