Mississippi makes divorce easier for DV victims

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The southern state of Mississippi has made changes to its divorce laws for the first time in more than 40 years, making the process easier for victims of domestic violence.

The phrase “including spousal domestic abuse” will now be added to “habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment”, one of the state’s exisiting grounds for divorce. The reality or otherwise of domestic abuse will be established by the testimony of a “single credible witness” under the new measures. This includes the spouse making the claim, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Domestic abuse, meanwhile, will include verbal behaviour, such as threats, intimidation and emotional manipulation, as long as this “rises above the level of unkindness or rudeness or incompatibility or want of affection.”

According to reports, the state’s divorce laws had barely changed in 100 years, beyond the additional of “irreconcilable differences” in 1976, and unhappy spouses were frequently trapped for years in a state of limbo if their spouse objected. Mississippi and South Dakota are now the only states in the Union which still do not offer resident a ‘no fault’ divorce system.

The newly approved reform was driven by Republican representative Andy Gipson, who is also a Baptist preacher. Having opposed previous attempts to reform Mississippi divorce law and earned public ire for doing so, he announced that he had changed his mind following testimony from campaigners and woman trapped in corrosive marriages.

He said:

“Let me tell you what I believe. I believe marriage is the only time when one and one equals one … Anybody who beats up on their own flesh — you’d call them crazy and insane.”

A spokesman for Governor Phil Bryant has already announced that the 62 year-old politician will approve the amends.

“Gov. Bryant has supported victims of domestic violence his entire career. He appreciates the Legislature’s work on the bill and will sign it.”

Image by WebTV3 via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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