What You Need to Know About Legal Separation in Mississippi

You are not sure about divorce, but you know you cannot live with your spouse right now. You believe a legal separation may be a good alternative, but you do not even know where to start. While Mississippi does not technically have anything called “legal separation”, you still have many options to establish a set of rules during this difficult time either through a formal or informal agreement or through a court order.

How do I Get a Temporary Order in Mississippi?

A temporary order will be one of the first actions a judge will take in your case. R+E attorneys will enter a written Motion for Temporary Relief as one of their first steps as your attorneys. The Court will then set a temporary hearing for the purpose of entering your temporary order. Although temporary hearings are usually short, you will be asked to be present and will likely need to provide some testimony about your most pressing concerns. Court may not be necessary, however, in the event both parties can agree on temporary relief prior to the hearing date.

What Will be Included in My Temporary Order?

One of the primary purposes of a temporary order is to make sure your children have the structure, support and provision they need. R+E attorneys understand “temporary” may last a while and as such we make sure all of your children’s needs are covered. You can expect a customized child custody and visitation arrangement to be included in your temporary order which will establish a primary physical custodian (sometimes known as the custodial parent) and will include  a detailed visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. Your temporary order will also address your child’s financial needs by establishing child support which is usually paid by the noncustodial parent. This amount may not be the permanent amount ultimately established by the Court, but it will be based upon the number of children involved and the adjusted gross income of the noncustodial parent. Your R+E attorney will make sure your children’s additional needs are addressed as well. Your children probably play sports, participate in the arts and some even attend private schools. These expenses can be addressed in your temporary order as well.

Medical care is no exception. The uncertainty of your marriage need not threaten your health or that of your children. Whether there exists extraordinary medical needs or you are dealing with colds, bumps and bruises, the Court will make sure those needs are met by making specified provisions for temporary healthcare in your temporary order.

Chances are if you’ve made your way to this page you are also wondering about alimony. Alimony too can be addressed and ordered on a temporary basis. The Court will likely enter an award for temporary alimony if your case is one in which there is a single wage earner and a stay at home parent. This will allow for both parties to afford the costs of living separately during the pendency of your divorce case. Temporary alimony can also be ordered in the event there is a disparity between the two parties’ incomes for the same purpose.

Temporary Orders should address all day to day issues. Your temporary order for instance can also address such issues as who will occupy and maintain the marital home, how the joint debt will be serviced and even who drives which car.

You may find yourself stuck awkwardly between the breakdown of the marriage relationship and physical separation. Often times parties have “separated” for all intents and purposes but still live under the same roof. A temporary order will provide you with the structure, security and financial means necessary to provide for physical separation.

When Does “Temporary” End?

Temporary orders usually do not have an end date, but some judges will place an expiration date requiring the order to be renewed if the situation is not resolved. The uncertainties of a divorce case make time limited orders somewhat impractical. Most of the time, your temporary order will last until your case if finalized by either a new permanent agreement signed by both parties or by a judge’s order. Although uncommon, when circumstances demand a change in a temporary order – to address some emergency for instance – the Court can enter an order modifying the temporary order. These types of modifications are uncommon however and your case is likely to conclude without this type of modification.

What is Separate Maintenance?

Separate Maintenance, although rare, does exist in Mississippi. Separate Maintenance will apply to your case only in the event one of the parties refuses to agree to a divorce and the other party has “left” and has no legal grounds for divorce. A judge can impose a separate maintenance order if the “leaving” spouse refuses to provide support to the “left” spouse and there is no divorce in the foreseeable future. However, the leaving spouse must not have justification for the separation and the left spouse must desire for the leaving spouse to come home. Although such an order is rare, your R+E attorney will help you navigate through the possibility of Separate Maintenance if necessary.

How Can You Help Me?

Here is the way this works, if you want to talk about “legal separation” or anything else, call our office (601-898-8655) or confidentially submit a basic intake form so our staff can complete a standard conflict check. That’s when we make sure nothing on this end will stand in the way of us being helpful. Then, we will schedule a time for you to talk to one or more of our attorneys to go over your situation.


Do I need a reason to get a divorce in Mississippi?

Yes.  You must have an agreement or a reason to divorce in Mississippi. This fact doesn’t just puzzle people faced with divorce; family law attorneys who practice in other states think it is bizarre as well. Mississippi is in a small minority of states viewing marriage through this lens. Notwithstanding an annual try by a few brave legislators, our state simply refuses to make it easier to get a divorce. Because proving a legal reason is often pretty difficult, it puts the more motivated spouse in a less leveraged position. Simply stated, whether or not grounds for divorce exist can create unjust outcomes.

What are my rights during the period of time between separation and the entry of a court order?

Until the entry of a court order, your rights following separation are the same as they were while you and your spouse were living together. This means you and your spouse enjoy the same equal rights to your home, personal property, and children as you did before. This is often the most chaotic period of the divorce process, so communication with your spouse, if possible, can be crucial. We like to call this the “storm before the calm.”

Resources related to Fault-Based Divorce

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