Cheating and No-Fault Divorces

Not every state has no-fault divorce. That means you have to prove grounds, such as infidelity, and your divorce could take a decade or more. Why? Because you can waive grounds for divorce.

Mississippi is one of only two states without a true “no-fault divorce” law. If one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, he or she can often stave one off for a long time. In one reported case, it was more than a decade.

As WTSP in Tampa Bay reports, there’s an effort in the Mississippi Legislature to make some reforms to their divorce laws. But such efforts have failed in the past. A measure to create a “no-fault” divorce based on length of separation has already been watered down early in the legislative process this session.

Getting a divorce in Mississippi is difficult and expensive. Lawmakers and the religious lobby in this Bible Belt state have been reluctant to make it any easier or cheaper, mainly in efforts to uphold the institution and sanctity of marriage.

Yet, Mississippi still ranks continually near the top of states in its divorce rate — seventh highest in one recent study.

Experts say Mississippi’s antiquated divorce laws, little changed over a century, put low-income people at a disadvantage — particularly homemakers who don’t have resources to fight a lengthy court battle. They likely hurt the state’s overall economy, clog the courts and cost taxpayers.

In Mississippi, you still have to prove grounds for divorce, so a spouse who condones, or forgives marital fault can’t get a divorce unless the conduct happens again.

In a case of infidelity then, the non-cheating spouse who reconciles with the cheating spouse, may be found to have condoned the infidelity; and may have lost the grounds for divorce until it  happens again.

No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

I’ve written about no-fault divorce before. Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only reason you need to file for divorce in Florida is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” But as the case of Mississippi shows, in other states, that is not always the case.

The WTSP article is here.