Though some states allow the rights and duties of married couple which decides to separate to be deemed “legally separated,” Mississippi does not recognize “legal separation” between married couples. Couples are either married or divorced. Partners can separate; however, there is nothing which can be filed with the court to allow them to be “legally separated.”
A party can file for separate maintenance, which is a legal construct created to favor reconciliation between the parties by way of the leaving party being required to make a payment to the remaining spouse to maintain his/her standard of living. More information about separate maintenance is discussed in Q&A: SEPARATE MAINTENANCE.
If a husband and wife separate, even if by agreement, given that there is no legal separation, Mississippi law expects that the parties uphold commitments to the marriage until a divorce is granted. For example, if a spouse chooses to begin intimate relationships with other individuals during the "separation" but prior to the divorce, then that party can be found under the law have committed adultery.
No romantic or dating relationship should begin until the divorce is final. A romantic relationship prior to the finailization of the divorce is considered adultery under the law, which is a fault ground for divorce. During the litigation process it is likely that you will be asked under oath whether or not you had intimate contact with anyone other than your spouse, including holding hands, kissing, genital touching, intercourse, etc. It is important that you wait to begin dating until after the court finalizes the divorce.
There are benefits to hiring a lawyer to represent you in your divorce. It is important to have an advocate that knows the laws and legal procedures. An attorney can ensure that your interests are met and your rights are protected.
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