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Divorce / February 15, 2017

Divorce vs. Annulment

What’s the difference between a divorce and an annulment? In a nutshell, a divorce is the judicial decree that ends a marriage while an annulment is the legal process through which a marriage is retroactively invalidated. The key distinction is that a divorce ends a marriage while an annulment establishes that a marital status never existed. The grounds for which a couple can obtain a divorce or an annulment differ from state to state, however, the permissible grounds in Mississippi for each are outlined below.

What Are the Grounds for Obtaining a Divorce in Mississippi?

In order to file for divorce in Mississippi you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. If a couple meets this residency requirement there are several legal methods available to them for obtaining a divorce. The first is called a “no-fault divorce” and is available when both spouses agree to divorce and to settle related issues such as child custody and support, property division, and alimony. On the other hand, if a couple isn’t able to agree to a no-fault divorce then one spouse can sue the other to end the marriage based on any one of the following twelve grounds allowed by Mississippi state law:

  • Desertion,
  • Natural impotency,
  • Insanity or idiocy,
  • Wife’s pregnancy by another person at the time of the marriage,
  • Adultery,
  • Imprisonment,
  • Incurable insanity that develops after marriage,
  • Habitual drunkenness,
  • Habitual and excessive drug use,
  • Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment,
  • Bigamy, or
  • Incest

For more information about each of the twelve divorce grounds allowed by state law visit the Mississippi Bar’s website.

What Are the Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment in Mississippi?

According to the Mississippi Code of Law, there are several grounds that a couple can use to obtain an annulment of marriage in Mississippi. These grounds include:

  • Bigamy,
  • Incest,
  • Incurable impotency that existed at the time of the marriage ceremony,
  • Adjudicated mental illness or incompetence of either or both parties,
  • Failure to comply with our state’s marriage license requirements,
  • Either party was incapable of legally entering into the marriage (and the marriage was not ratified),
  • The consent of either party to the marriage was obtained by force or fraud (and the marriage was not ratified), or
  • The husband did not know that the wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage ceremony by another person (and the marriage was not ratified).

It is important to note that under some circumstances an annulment will only be granted if the couple files to annul their marriage within six months after the applicable ground for annulment was, or should have been, discovered. Additionally, it may not be possible to obtain an annulment if the marriage was “ratified”, i.e. if the couple continued to live together after one spouse learned of valid grounds for annulment. If you would like to obtain an annulment be sure to act quickly and consult with a local family law attorney.

Need Legal Advice?

Dissolving a marriage is a complicated process that often involves a great deal of stress for everyone involved. Derek Hall is an experienced divorce and family law attorney who is committed to helping his clients through this challenging process while offering compassionate legal guidance at every turn. If you have questions about obtaining an annulment or a divorce in Mississippi contact our Jackson office today at (601) 768-7796.


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