Monday, February 20, 2017

Our divorce laws suck. They really do.

Stuck in the mud is a term often used in Mississippi but the description aptly applies to our divorce laws.  The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender reported yesterday how Mississippi law favors the wife-beaters while keeping their victims enslaved.  Some state senators are trying to change the law for the better yet face opposition from all corners. 
Article.

The story begins by telling the tale of a woman who repeatedly tried to get divorce but her husband refused to grant her one.  She was stuck for years in this unfortunate predicament until she finally moved in desperation to another state with more sensible laws.  Mr. Pender paints a picture that is all too often the reality in Mississippi:


Mary Smith — whose real name is not being used to protect her safety — filed for divorce last summer after she and her three children fled her husband and their home. They spent a week in a metro area shelter for abused women.  It had taken Smith a while to work up the courage to leave her marriage of only a few years, and she had a moment of panic when her husband discovered her plan.

Smith fears her husband. While she says he has only physically grabbed or shoved her, she fears that could change at any time.

"He smashes things, throws over tables, threatens, breaks stuff, curses at me, yells," Smith said. "I had to walk on eggshells, ask permission to leave the house, beg him not to yell and do that in front of the children … My hands are shaking right now, even thinking about him, talking to you … You just wonder, 'Is this going to be the time that raised fist comes down on you?' …

"It was like living in a cult."

She returned home only after he agreed to move out, although he has since "broken in," she said. She said police have since escorted him as he retrieved things from the home.

Smith had been a homemaker before the separation, and she said her husband drained their bank accounts when she fled to the shelter. She's worked several part-time jobs while trying to find a full-time one....

Smith said that until she started reading Mississippi's divorce laws, she didn't realize "I basically have to have his permission to get a divorce." She fears she's in for a long, expensive ordeal. In the meantime, she fears for her safety.

"I had thought, maybe I would have to wait a year or something for irreconcilable differences (to be proven)," Smith said. "He's been telling me he's never going to sign. Our laws need to change. Being held hostage in a bad and unsafe relationship — you wouldn't force anybody to stay in a job like that. Why have laws that hold people hostage in a bad and unsafe relationship?"

Smith noted — as have experts and advocates — that Mississippi's law doesn't specify domestic abuse as a grounds for divorce, and its provision for cruelty as a ground requires "clear and convincing" proof of "habitual cruelty."

"So, according to habitual, you have to be beaten at least two or three times to get out," Smith said.

Smith, as others have noted, said Mississippi's antiquated divorce laws appear to have been written by men, for men....

Sandy Middleton, director of the Center for Violence Prevention, helped arrange The Clarion-Ledger's interview with "Mary Smith." Middleton said Smith's case is not peculiar. It's run-of-the-mill.

"Victims of domestic violence suffer from our current divorce system," Middleton said. "Frequently when women flee their abusive partners, they are unemployed and don't have any access to justice. Domestic violence offenders will use the court to continue to abuse. Our divorce law is the hammer they use to do it … It's very frequent that we see abusers dragging their victims through the courts for years. It's about control, and a lot of times the only tool they have left to exert control is (the) court.

"In our state, our area, there is nowhere to go for pro bono divorce legal assistance … The volunteer lawyers don't want to touch divorce because it's always so long and drawn out."

Middleton said spouses filing for divorce in abusive situations often causes a Catch-22.

"Let's say a victim finally gets enough and calls (the) police and presses charges, simple assault," Middleton said. "If she files for divorce before the criminal charges come up, nine times out of 10, once a judge learns there's a divorce filing, they won't hear the criminal case or grant a protective order because in their minds it's all tied to the divorce. In their mind, they think it's bogus criminal charges to help get a divorce. We see it all the time."

Middleton said victims of abuse often "give up" when they learn how difficult and expensive a divorce will be, and they stay in the abusive home and marriage....

One expert on Mississippi's divorce laws made a few pointed observations:

"Proving grounds (for divorce) requires corroboration through witnesses or documentation, and requires understanding of the elements of the ground and the rules of evidence. In other states, obtaining a divorce is a more simple process and more easily navigated without an attorney," Bell said.

Mississippi courts, Bell said, also still allow "archaic" common-law defenses when considering proof of grounds for divorce.

"Under Mississippi law, a spouse who condones, or forgives marital fault can't get a divorce unless the conduct happens again," Bell said. "In the context of domestic violence, a survivor who leaves home — perhaps to go to a shelter — then returns home has 'condoned' the violence. She has lost her ground for divorce until the violence happens again. This puts a survivor in the untenable position of needing to remain in the marriage — and in danger — to secure grounds for divorce. The previous abuse is not enough. She has to wait for it to happen again."

Bell has recommended Mississippi "adopt a middle ground between short-term, no-fault divorce and the current fault-based system." She said this could be done by creating a new ground based on long-term separation.

"This would at least provide an eventual route to divorce for one whose spouse will not agree," Bell said.

However, the legislature might modify Mississippi's divorce laws this year.

Sens. Sally Doty, Brice Wiggins, Sean Tindell — all attorneys — and others are pushing two bills, both of which have passed the full Senate and are pending in the House. Similar measures have died in the past, including last year.

One, authored by Doty, R-Brookhaven, would add "including domestic abuse" to the "cruel and inhuman treatment" grounds for divorce. A bill she authored last year to add "domestic violence" as a grounds died on the last day of the session when it got tangled up in debate over adding lengthy separation as grounds, along with other politics.

"I want to make clear that domestic violence is unacceptable, and we changed it to say domestic abuse to cover a few more things, such as social isolation and financial exploitation," Doty said. "By domestic abuse, it's not necessarily a conviction for violence, but you can put on your evidence of abuse. It opens it up a little bit."

Tindell, R-Gulfport, has authored a bill that would create "bona fide separation" of two or more years as a grounds for divorce — a step toward a true no-fault provision.

Doty said problems caused by Mississippi's divorce laws and the politics of trying to change them "is a real hair ball."...

Therein lies the problem. Politics. Some of the more conservative legislators told the newspaper they were against changing divorce laws at all.  One even went so far as to say that he opposed even including domestic violence as a ground for divorce.  One wonders why this is even a "conservative" issue.  What exactly does stopping victims from escaping abusive marriages have to do with Adam Smith, limited government, or freedom from government intrusion? 

Simply put, their opposition helps the abusers.   Some abusers are actually smart enough not to cause bruises or broken bones.  They will instead make life a living hell for the victim.  The additional ground for separation or domestic violence would have provided a way for a victim of abuse to leave an abusive marriage when the other spouse will not agree to a divorce.

If the woman has enough and leaves, well, the abuser can charge her with desertion.  If she comes back to the house because she fears for her children's safety, she effectively wipes out her case.  Then there is the matter of proof.  The abuser can throw things at her, yell at her every night, and commit other acts of abuse yet she has to be able to prove the abuse to a judge.  Good luck.  Family  members often refuse to testify.   Victims of domestic abuse and violence are usually in the inferior position.  Abusers marry them often because they can control the spouse.  The victim is usually dependent on the abuser.  If the abuser is really good (sarcasm), he made sure she didn't possess the means, money, or job skills to take care of herself.   They often refuse to agree to a divorce if the victim files charges - or use dropping the charges as a bargaining chip in the divorce.  Then there is the matter of infidelity.  The abuser at times commits adultery but the victim lacks the means to hire the private investigators to catch the adultery. 

The victim often can't afford an attorney.  Beaten and cowed, she is at the mercy of a court system that truly is pay to play when it comes to divorce and unfortunately for the victims, the abusers are all too often the only ones who can pay to play.  They hold the cards yet some senators refuse to recognize that fact. The truth is, getting divorced in Mississippi sucks for those who suffer abuse and are poor.  The legislature needs to change the laws to help victims escape deadly marriages instead of making excuses to help the abusers.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having lived through 4 years of false accusations in chancery court from the time my daughter was 3 months old I think people don't understand how easy it is a for a wife to take the kids, throw a few false accusations, and win everything initially. I've been clawing back at great cost and anguish making progress, but it should never have been that way. I now have joint physical custody and sole legal custody. That cost me in excess of 50k. My ex-wife had 3 lawyers at one point.

The idea that our divorce laws are slanted towards men is a joke. We need shared parenting laws.

Kingfish said...

And I've also seen cases where the husband would only work jobs that paid cash so he could say he made no money. One was driving around in a corvette, going on trips all of the time, had a home, another truck etc all in the name of the family business that he ran but had structured it so his parents were on the corporate papers but he actually ran it. $200,000 lifestyle on $25,000 a year salary.

Anonymous said...

That's a failure on DHS's part and they should do a better job following up on leads when someone is gaming the system.

My ex quit her job a week before serving papers and gave her rental house to her brother so she could claim she was destitute when we went to court. I wish we could have fought that more, but time in court is limited and we always focused on trying to get time with my daughter.

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who married a guy that turned out to be a con artist. He had debt he had concealed from her and ran up her credit cards once he had access. She separated and tried to divorce him, but he wouldn't sign the papers and because he hadn't abandoned her or committed adultery, she was basically at his mercy.

Fortunately for her, she was able to get him to sign. She then moved out of the country and met her soul mate to whom she has been married for several years. Others are not so lucky.

I think there's a thought that by modernizing our divorce laws, we'll open the door to a flood of divorces, but that is folly. One cannot compel people to behave as Christ commanded by making laws that force them into said behavior.

In other words, strict divorce laws do not make a willing heart.

Kingfish said...

We both can come up with horror stories, all true, from both sides.

What is being discussed here is making it easier for people to escape abusive marriages and yes, keeping someone in a marriage by refusing to grant a divorce is itself a form of control and abuse. It's a system that favors those better off financially and the lawyers as well.

and yes, guys like you are victimized as well. Never denied that.

Anonymous said...

The family-law MS Chancery Court is indeed a Pay-to-Play system. The way it works is an attorney can set his/her rate by how likely it is they will win cases because the Judge likes them. If you walk in court with the average attorney you best hope the other party has just an average attorney not known to the court or you will get a ruling you won't be happy with, even if you filed the case and have your children's best interest at heart.

The other issue is the only way you can truly know how an attorney will do in Chancery court is to be able to watch them work in a courtroom. Not happening in Rankin County because the Judges want to keep people out in the name of, "security", even though you go through metal detectors before you can enter they don't want anyone watching how this lame court works.

Many of our legislators are lawyers and they understand the true winners in the MS Chancery Court system are lawyers. No need to change something that is a cash cow for a few.

As for domestic violence charges; I filed a domestic violence charge against my spouse and the municipal court held the case for 2 years while the divorce process played out. Guess what happened? The criminal charge was negotiated to be dropped in the divorce and then the municipal court came calling for a $100 drop charge from the person that filed the charge. This practice should be stopped because it only hurts the victim while the courts use the practice as a tax on the vulnerable while no justice is served. To make matters worse it only makes the victim not want to use the criminal justice system and serves as no deterrence to the abuser.

Anonymous said...

Get the government out of the marriage business. Half the country is shacking up and even having kids and raising them outside of marriage and even though I'm old fashioned, I'm starting to think this makes sense.

Why let a bunch of Baptist lawyers tell you how marriage should work?

Kent Dear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Indeed the Chancery Court system is as much at fault as the divorce laws. Let's begin a dialog about elected judges sucking up to lawyers who appear before them for contributions to their campaigns and lawyers sucking up to the Judge for a favorable verdict or even better, a "continuance" so he/she can charge more hours to the client! A never ending cycle of BS for the client.....shameful....no other state allows this kind of abuse!

Anonymous said...

A Complete Nightmare! My sister is in this situation because her husband says he will not give her a divorce. He has abused her and threatened her life. Why should we protect these abusive men?

Anonymous said...

WONDER WHY THE MISSISSIPPI BAR ASSOCIATION DOES NOT CARE ENOUGH ABOUT THIS ABUSE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO GET INVOLVED?

Anonymous said...

But you have to consider all the good work the legislature has done this year and in years past...........crickets......

Kingfish said...

You mean the same bar that allowed Van Leonard to keep practicing law for months after he pleaded guilty to embezzling from a client? The same bar that removed a child molesting disbarred lawyer from its directory because his firm had some pull?

Anonymous said...

Bringing back the 24 month separation as a divorce ground would solve some of this. Very little to prove in those cases and no one has to be at fault.

The problem with the domestic violence idea is they want to have a lower standard of proof than a criminal case.

bill said...

There is no logical explanation for why a legislator would vote against making domestic violence a grounds for divorce. It's just another example of men making laws for men.

Anonymous said...

Shortly after my ex-spouse and I agreed to terms and got a divorce, the ex decided that they did not have to follow the order. Being newly divorced with lots of new bills, etc, I didn't want to have to hire an attorney again and drop another retainer. I confronted the ex and they refused to comply (over night guests while they had the kids). So I took it upon myself to file a motion of contempt and went to the courthouse to file it. The clerk looked at me like I was insane when I told her I had no attorney. She finally explained I had to pay about $150 to reopen the case and then took my papers to file. I asked if the paperwork was submitted correctly and she just said she could not help me at all, only could take the docs and wished me luck. I was called later that day to schedule a court date which I set and that alone was enough to scare the ex straight and the overnight activity ceased. But it showed me how fixed the system is to hire an attorney to do anything regardless of how black and white the issue is at hand.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want to live with the consequences of being married...which includes the onus placed upon the parties to break up the union....then do not get married.

No one forces you to get married.

If you are a victim of spousal abuse, but a gun and shoot the perpetrator.

Rely on yourself more and the government less.

Do not call the police to help you.....take care of your own business.

Do not be heard to complaint...be self sufficient.

Get used to the above silliness.

Anonymous said...

"Indeed the Chancery Court system is as much at fault as the divorce laws. Let's begin a dialog about elected judges sucking up to lawyers who appear before them for contributions to their campaigns and lawyers sucking up to the Judge for a favorable verdict or even better, a "continuance" so he/she can charge more hours to the client! A never ending cycle of BS for the client.....shameful....no other state allows this kind of abuse!" February 20, 2017 at 11:35 AM

Yep! And this is just one more reason, among MANY, why people get out of Mississippi, as soon as they're old enough to rent a U-Haul.

Anonymous said...

Essentially the same article[s] are published every year, and the same true no fault bill[s] are introduced, and every year neither has any effect.

More and more I think the government has no role in licensing, regulating, ending and/or patrolling "marriage". It should be considered a "joint venture" and/or a religious matter. Courts should be the last resort to resolve splits. Courts should retain power to protect children in such situations however.

Anonymous said...

Chancellor Larry Primeaux has called habitual cruel & unusual treatment "arguably the most difficult ground to prove." I suspect that it's been that way in part because (mostly male) legislators don't want (mostly male) respondents to be tarred with the "cruel" label.

Of course, the way to get around that would be to allow no-fault divorce, which keeps getting opposed because it's bad for families. The idea that inability to get a divorce could be even worse for some families does not seem to occur to those opponents.

Divorce Lawyer said...

The bill to create a ground of "domestic violence" is bogus. Any plaintiff where there is a conviction for domestic violence would undoubtedly be granted a divorce on habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. It doesn't change the law in Mississippi one iota from a practical standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Making it a little harder to get married and enforcing child support laws vigorously
so the tax payer doesn't pick up the tab should be the first step in reducing this mess.

God grant me the serenity... said...

@4:42 you're the kind of lawyer that grinds my gears. You don't live in reality.

Domestic violence in a household is not always brought to the attention of local authorities much less is a charge and/or conviction of domestic violence brought.

Anonymous said...

My question is where do old boy legislators get off by not dealing with this cesspool of a situation that can only serve to hurt children caught in the middle – read the voting roles next time around and ask your legislator why and where they stood on this clear abuse of wives and children.

See If I Got This Straight.. said...

So; To recap: We have made it easy and acceptable for two men with nipple rings to marry each other and order a cake but we have made it next to impossible for two heterosexual people of the opposite sex to dissolve a marriage, in many cases.

Anonymous said...

WAPT News Story on "No Fault" Divorce laws in Mississippi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y7A68TJdsk

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2016/07/01/house-bill-1523-struck-down/86587988/
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/01/mississippi-ag-churchgoing-public-duped/86600028/
https://mississippitoday.org/2016/06/30/federal-judge-strikes-down-house-bill-1523/
http://wreg.com/2016/02/25/mississippi-bill-would-make-domestic-violence-grounds-for-divorce/http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/senate/doty.xml http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2010/jul/21/starting-again-mississippi-laws-trap-women-in/

Anonymous said...

The chancery court judges allow unethical divorce lawyers to run up exorbitant fees and when the client runs out of money, the judges will also allows lawyers to withdraw.
It's become a racket. The delays granted are too often without merit. Simply having the lawyer say he has " a conflict" will do it.
The Chancery Court judges are responsible for allowing such tactics to succeed. They have the power to require appearance and deny delays.
And, while both men and women can suffer the consequences, it's more often the woman being starved or forced into " submission" as the males usually have more financial resources to pay the lawyers...especially in this state.
I suspect 10:14's ex either had her own money or her parents financial backing.
There's no doubt the divorce laws in MS need revision as they are destructive to families but we also need to redefine marital assets.
Men should not be able to hide marital assets by being able to write off their family support as a business expense. That's tax law reform, not divorce law. No single family residence or automobile not used by an employee or furnishings should ever be owned by a business or corporation. A business should pay the owner or employee enough to buy those things for their families. I understand the notion that some executives have to relocate, but if the business wants residential housing , it can't be for owners but for revolving employee use or all employees to use...in short for business use ONLY not the occasional entertainment of customers/clients.
No one should be able to hide income from a court, even cash. The party attempting to do that should be required to explain to a judge how he is managing to " live" without have that burden of proof falling on the spouse seeking support.
The ability to hide real income at all levels has been made easier for the wealthy.
There has been a move throughout the country to make the all laws favor the wealthy under the guises of lowering taxes and de-regulation with few benefits for the upper middle and lower upper incomes and great benefits for the very wealthy. It has made things worse for families and children of even the wealthy. The children's lifestyle can change dramatically . Sadly, in a first family's early years , the father is often too busy with work to bond with the " first " children and does bond more with the " second" family. It becomes easy to rationalize that the " first" family is less grateful and deserving and to ignore his own emotional and physical absence.

Anonymous said...

There are always two sides to family problems, but to sacrifice life and liberty to anachronisms and children to abuse is very sick concept of biblical or fundamentalist “family values”. If this disturbs you, and if you feel it should not be occurring in a “Christian”, “family values” – oriented family, then please tell yourself why the system cannot allow divorce after years of total separation in Mississippi? While this smells of “old boy” cronyism in the Mississippi legal and lawmakers community?

Anonymous said...

That's why the legislature opposes education - because they know an educated electorate would vote all their a**es out of office, regardless of party!

Those are some sorry som'itches.

Anonymous said...

Another great little dirty secret from the great state of Mississippi!

Anonymous said...

this is my story. i have been trying for four years to get divorced. he won't sign. i cannot tell you how much i have spent. i make over 6 figures, he barely makes squat. everything is in my name, but thanks to MS law, his name is also on house deed. mortgage is 100% in my name. I can't afford two residences, he won't leave. i have looked at establishing residency elsewhere, but again, two residences to keep up. counseling is not helping, more of a joke. slavery is still alive and well in ms, just disguised as marriage. death is my only option.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:45pm

Do you have any children together?

Anonymous said...

to all you hard luck story telling bedwetters out there, remember , the leading cause of divorce is marriage.

Anonymous said...

@4:44, yes. and they are minors.

Anonymous said...

lots of comments here because marriage and divorce is mississippi's favorite sport. you marry your "soulmate", then you get divorced and the misery you put up with is everyone s fault but your own. you blame the legislature , the courts, the judges, the lawyers, and the system. grow up.

Anonymous said...

i accept my share of the responsibility. but to have a man quit work and then whine about not having enough play money? i don't agree with supporting a lazy man that happens to be able-bodied and can't get disability like the rest of his family. and i know that goes both ways. i know many wives that just spend and don't contribute except to hire and fire the cleaning and nanny services.

Anonymous said...

to 8:05....I guess it would take a woman literally beat into total submission, or a man financially and emotionally devastated by an unfaithful wife, or, most horribly, a child whose entire future is ruined by growing up in an abusive environment to get your head straight.....you are the one who needs to 'GROW UP'...!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The hagiography of “Southern gentlemen” has almost nothing to do with the reality of nut living in the spider’s web of conspiracy, where he can “play” at being Father. Importing wife was lead into a pre-vented trap of mysoginistic man-cave of patriarchal and religious fundamentalism oppression, there her experienced a moral humiliation and bullying, physical, sexual abuse and forcible rape, racism and chauvinism, constant and widespread suppression her as a persons, limitation of her freedom and rough violation of her human right.

Kent Dear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

to 9:34......you love to tell horror stories don't you .i can only assume that you are referring to spouses when you mention"a woman beat into submission" or "a man emotionally devastated ". when you start to complain about your spouse, YOU are the one that picked him or her out to marry. strap that one on drama queen/king.

Anonymous said...

this blog is full of whiney little southern gentry who blame everyone but themselves for their current state of misery. these same people will, once they get their divorce, simply run right back out there and find a knock-off of their first spouse and get married again. here they love to ride the merry-go-round. enjoy yourselves.

Anonymous said...

this blog is full of whiney little southern gentry who blame everyone but themselves for their current state of misery. these same people will, once they get their divorce, simply run right back out there and find a knock-off of their first spouse and get married again. here they love to ride the merry-go-round. enjoy yourselves.

Anonymous said...

this blog is full of whiney little southern gentry who blame everyone but themselves for their current state of misery. these same people will, once they get their divorce, simply run right back out there and find a knock-off of their first spouse and get married again. here they love to ride the merry-go-round. enjoy yourselves.

Anonymous said...

to 9;34.........maybe you should run for political office and create a few government programs to "fix" those horrible problems you love to rant about.

Anonymous said...

Yep, it’s sure a nasty situation and the women and children do the suffering in the name of family values. But wait, Donald will make everything great again … Ooops, just forgot that - oh so very Christian pres has done the pre-nup loop three times already.

Anonymous said...

.just write the check and move on (or not if you’re feeling vindictive).

Anonymous said...

Judges have a thousand ways to rig a legal proceeding, to benefit rich part of the trial; because, we are not in the Hollywood movie there judges in courts are like kind uncles, smiling and being wise and calmly dispensing justice. The sad reality of Mississippi is an antique marriage law manipulated by trust funded malignant narcissists.

kathleen cook said...

Local lawyers charge abuse victims and others in domestic scenarios 250 bucks an hour and above that for what is actually easy work. $3000 or $5000 or $10,000 retainer...The law in Mississippi has been translated by the ones getting rich from the hardship of others. The law of our State is actually OK...Domestic law is big business. Our perceptions of domestic law are colored by what we pay and what we get and what we see. Hire a good lawyer.

Anonymous said...

There are many good reasons to oppose no-fault divorce. Here are a few.

1. In Mississippi, the risk of a parent with primary physical custody moving away from the State and taking the couple’s children with that parent (usually the mother) is huge. Unlike nearly every other state in America, a parent with Mississippi primary physical custody has the right to take his/her child ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD and the parent with visitation can’t do anything to stop it. The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed this doctrine in Lambert v. Lambert, 872 So.2d 679, (Miss. Ct. App. 2003), stating:

"The appellate courts have repeatedly held that the mere moving of one party or the other is insufficient grounds for modification of child custody. Cooley v. Cooley, 574 So.2d 694, 699 (Miss. 1991) (frequent moves within a short period of time, including move to Japan, insufficient to warrant change in custody) (overruled on other grounds); Spain v. Holland, 483 So.2d 318, 321 (Miss. 1986) (move to England does not require change in custody); Pearson v. Pearson, 458 So.2d 711, 713 (Miss. 1984) (move to Hawaii no per se basis for interfering in custody); Brocato v. Walker, 220 So.2d 340, 344 (Miss. 1969) [(]600 mile move to San Antonio, Texas, not a material change in circumstances).

Lambert at 685. Thus, Mississippi's current rule that its courts are powerless to prevent a parent relocating Mississippi children to Hawaii, England or even Japan a world away from the parent remaining in Mississippi is ridiculous. Before no-fault divorce is adopted in Mississippi, either joint custody needs to become the default custody (which at least requires a hearing before a parent can move children away from our state) or Mississippi’s antiquated and unusual rule for primary physical custody needs to be changed first.

2. No fault divorce would not lead to the result implied by the Clarion Ledger article. Where there are minor children, the expense and uncertainty of litigation (including issues of fault) just shift to the child custody determination. See e.g., “Should No-fault Divorce be Abolished?” by Tom James, 09/07/2014, at http://tomjameslaw.com/blog/should-no-fault-divorce-be-abolished/ ; “Five Myths About No Fault Divorce” by Stephen Baskerville, Catholic News Agency, January 2015, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/marriage/five-myths-about-no-fault-divorce/ . (CONTINUED IN NEXT POST)

Anonymous said...

CONTINUED FROM PRECEDING POST

Also, states that have no-fault divorce have higher divorce rates. Thus, much of the so-called savings from no-fault divorce are consumed by the additional litigation expense and societal cost of more divorces. Id.

Notice that Leeza Freels got her divorce not because she moved to Oregon (her husband could have contested jurisdiction there), but because their youngest daughter had graduated and gone off to college. (FYI, she graduated with honors from Madison Central and is on a full scholarship at Stanford University in Stanford California.) Thus, David Freels chose to no longer oppose Leeza Freel’s complaint for divorce.

Meanwhile, even the CL admitted that the other victim described (called Amy Smith) is now living in the couple’s home with their children. That is because it is my understanding she filed suit and threatened asking for a “temporary hearing.” If half the facts the CL presents are true, it was clear that in any “temporary hearing.” Amy Smith was going to get that house, the children and some financial support. Consequently, her husband voluntarily moved out and it also my understanding that he agreed to pay child support and alimony.

Having no-fault divorce on the books did not accomplish this result and moreover, unless one thinks it will magically turn bad spouses into good ones, it never will. It was the current law that got Amy Smith the house, children and support. The CL’s implication that no-fault divorce must be adopted to get this result is obviously no true according to the CL’s own statement of facts.

3. To the extent there is a problem, the solution is to make assault a specific statutory basis for divorce. That makes the standard clear. While physical abuse already is a ground for divorce under the “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” provision, as many commenters above point out, it is inconsistently applied. What is “habitual”? How many incidents of assault are required? Over what period of time causing what degree/type of injury must be proven? My experience is that there is a great deal of inconsistency judge-to-judge. And where there is inconsistency, judges can play political games. As a member of the profession, at least in chancery court where judges serve as judge and jury (ie, “the finder of fact”), politics interferes with the process far too often.

Anonymous said...

http://mississippilawjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Bell_82MissLJSupra131.pdf

Anonymous said...


Julie Freels, Stanford University:
"Treating marriage like cheap junk is better than treating it like a prison sentence".
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/20/no-fault-divorce-mississippi/98153328/

Anonymous said...

http://library.findlaw.com/2000/Aug/1/129222.html
7. HABITUAL CRUEL AND INHUMAN TREATMENT--The charge of cruel and inhuman treatment against one spouse means something more than unkindness or rudeness or mere imcompatability or want of affection. "The conduct of the offending spouse must be so unkind as to be cruel, that is, so unreasonably harsh and severe as to be inhumane, so lacking in human qualities, so unfeeling or brutal as to endanger, or put one in reasonable apprehension of danger to life, limb or health. And finally, such conduct must be habitual, that is, done so often, or continued so long, that its recurrence may be reasonably expected whenever occasion or opportunity presents itself." "On the other hand, habitual ill-founded accusations, threats and malicious sarcasm, insults and verbal abuse may cause such mental suffering as to destroy health and endanger the life of an innocent spouse."

Anonymous said...

Leeza Freels story is not an isolated event. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Mississippi families remain in a suspended state of dysfunction because one spouse has the power to keep a marriage alive even when the other spouse wants and in many cases, desperately needs, out. This creates an atmosphere that enables abuse and prevents women and children from achieving economic and social independence.

Anonymous said...

Politics aside, there are several no fault divorce and victims advocacy groups who can attest to the continuation of spousal and sexual abuse in Mississippi. Women without children routinely flee the state and resettle elsewhere; however, countless women with children are condemned to abuse and denied true process of law in Mississippi should their partner wish to contest the request for divorce. How many children have to suffer, how many women must be beaten, raped in the name of "family values"?

Kingfish said...

I suspect some legislators oppose any changes because they don't want to make it easier for their wives to leave them.

Anonymous said...

This story is not pretty, but unfortunately all too real due to Mississippi statutes which unlike other states, has no "no fault" divorce rules - a situation which short of proved insanity or mental incompetence, allows a husband or wife to deny a simple divorce. Normally "incompatibility" or violent behavior would be sufficient grounds to separate and provide stability to families as well as protection from sexual or other forms of abuse, but not in Mississippi. Due process in the interest of protecting children and spouses in Mississippi can be blocked by simply contesting or denying grounds for divorce. This allows for an abusive or mentally ill spouse to avoid reality and financial responsibility and thus perpetuate sexual or physical abuse for years at the expense of familial stability and most importantly, the protection of the children involved.

Anonymous said...

Fundamentalism has many forms, but the victims usually remain the same.

Anonymous said...

My favorite:So; ..."We have made it easy and acceptable for two men with nipple rings to marry each other and order a cake but we have made it next to impossible for two heterosexual people of the opposite sex to dissolve a marriage, in many cases".
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/20/no-fault-divorce-mississippi/98153328/

Anonymous said...

The MS marrige law has became a cruel joke...

Anonymous said...

Thompson said he supports Mississippi creating a "no-fault" ground for divorce. South Dakota is the only other state without such a ground. He said opposition to this change, from those saying it will weaken the sanctity of marriage and increase divorces, is misguided. In practice, Mississippi's lack of a no-fault ground allows one spouse to hold up a divorce, sometimes for years.
"The idea behind making it difficult to get a divorce is that Mississippi is promoting marriage," Thompson said. "But when you go 10 years and it costs tens of thousands of dollars — those aren't intact families trying to get back together.
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/02/protecting-families-prolonging-misery/363504001/

Anonymous said...

And people wonder why Putin feels like he has the right to criticize our human right record!
You can abuse your wife with impunity in Mississippi and then simply refuse to give her a divorce while the courts sanction this kind of behavior.
How many more women need be abused, how many more children abused? Mississippi “family values” …

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
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