Needed divorce reforms approved

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mississippi’s divorce laws will finally get the changes necessary to protect abused spouses. The Legislature this week passed a bill that added “spousal domestic abuse” to the ground of habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment.

Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to sign the changes into law.

Advocates of changing the law, including Sen. Sally Doty, argued that current law sometimes traps abused spouses in marriages. The changes approved this week should help prevent that. 

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The changes spell out that spousal domestic abuse can be established in divorce cases by the testimony of a “single, credible witness,” including the abused spouse.

The law will now define domestic abuse as abuse that can include threats, intimidation and emotional abuse.

While we support marriage and wish divorce wasn’t as common as it is, we also believe an abused spouse should be able to obtain a divorce, even if the abuser doesn’t agree to it.

“Many victims of domestic violence are too embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to pursue divorce,” Doty was quoted as saying. “Specifically including domestic violence as grounds for divorce makes clear that domestic abuse is unacceptable and there is a way out of a toxic relationship.”

Doty has championed this cause and we thank her for her efforts on this matter.