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Playing the Blame Game

In recent legal news, the Mississippi state Senate has passed new legislation that will have citizens of Greensboro and divorce attorneys alike glad that we live in North Carolina.

Unlike North Carolina, Mississippi law recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorces. If the requirements are not met for a no-fault divorce, you must prove to a judge that your spouse has committed one of the fault grounds enumerated by the Court in order to be granted your divorce.  The new legislation has added two additional grounds for a fault-based divorce.

The only ground permitted for a no-fault divorce in Mississippi is irreconcilable differences. For the Court to grant this no-fault divorce, both parties must agree that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties that prevent them from continuing their relationship as husband and wife, and both parties must agree to seek the divorce.

If the parties don’t agree that they should divorce, the only way for a party to be granted a divorce is by proving to the court that their spouse has committed one of the fault grounds. One side must prove to the court that the other has committed some fault that should allow the party to be granted a divorce.  The most common grounds of fault are typically adultery and desertion.

The new legislation passed by the Senate seeks to add two more grounds – separation and domestic violence.  The separation ground would require that the parties have lived separate and apart for at least two years without the intention to resume the marital relationship.  The domestic violence ground would allow a person to seek a divorce if their spouse has perpetrated cruel and inhumane treatment towards them, including spousal domestic abuse.

While the strict law on divorce in Mississippi seeks to encourage spouses to stay married and promote families, it certainly makes things difficult for a person looking to end their marriage.

If you are seeking a divorce in North Carolina, however, you will be glad to know that the standards to obtain a divorce are much more lenient.

In cases of divorce, North Caroline is a no-fault jurisdiction.  A party seeking a divorce is not required to show any wrongdoing by their spouse in order to be granted a divorce.  In fact, a party is not required to state any reason as to why they are seeking a divorce.

To file for absolute divorce in North Carolina, at least one of the parties to the marriage must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce complaint.

Once that jurisdictional requirement has been met, a party seeking a divorce need only show that they have been separated for a year and a day with the intent of remaining separate and apart.

For a divorce in North Carolina, only the consent of one party is required.  In fact, even a party who has committed some sort of fault or misconduct is able to apply to the court for a divorce.

As to the requirement that the parties have been separated for at least one year, the statutes in North Carolina also hold that mere isolated acts of sexual intercourse will not toll the one year separation period.  However, if the parties resume the marital relationship at any point, the one year required separation period would have to begin again.

As long as the requirement of the one year period of separation has been met, there is no defense that will bar the divorce being granted.


by Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group