Mississippi: domestic violence ‘not grounds for divorce’
March 2, 2017 3 comments
Lawmakers in Mississippi have rejected a bill which would make domestic violence a ground for divorce.
Although the measure was approved by the southern state’s Senate, it did not have such luck in the House of Representatives. Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Andy Gipson led the opposition to bill. He said that as there are a large number of divorces in the state, “the floodgate is already open — we don’t need to completely tear it down”. Last year, Mississippi had the seventh highest divorce rate in the United States, according to research by a marriage think tank based at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Rep. Gipson objected to the wording of the bill, asking if it “could possibly be interpreted that if someone raised their voice at their spouse, is that domestic assault?” He claimed that if that was the case “a lot of people would have a ground for divorce in Mississippi”.
The bill was introduced by Republican State Senator Sally Doty, who was “disappointed” that her proposal had failed. Doty said:
“I’m sure it’s even more disappointing to those victims of domestic violence who … need some help getting out of a marriage.”
In Mississippi people can seek a divorce on various grounds. These include adultery, bigamy, criminal conviction, impotence, desertion for more than a year, alcohol or drug abuse, “cruel or inhuman treatment”, insanity or if the wife was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the marriage.
The rejection of Doty’s bill was criticised by Sandy Middleton, director of the Mississippi-based Center for Violence Prevention. She said that victims of domestic abuse “suffer from [the state’s] current divorce system”.
Photo of the Mississippi State House of Representatives chamber by /\ \/\/ /\ via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
March 2, 2017