Adultery, Arrests and Divorce

Adultery, Arrests and Divorce in Mississippi

Adultery is a commonly seen reason for divorce across the country, but not everybody knows that adultery is actually a crime in Mississippi. Although we rarely see law enforcement agencies dedicating man-hours and resources to cracking down on adultery, it is possible to get arrested for it. Since there’s no “War on Adultery,” like there is a “War on Drugs,” it’s just not something we hear about often. In most cases, you’re going to hear about adultery in the context of a divorce case. Whether you’re facing a divorce, suspect your spouse of cheating or have been accused of cheating or arrested for adultery, you need to speak with a skilled lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your options.

§ 97-29-1. Adultery and fornication; unlawful cohabitation

“If any man and woman shall unlawfully cohabit, whether in adultery or fornication , they shall be fined in any sum not more than five hundred dollars each, and imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months; and it shall not be necessary, to constitute the offense, that the parties shall dwell together publicly as husband and wife, but it may be proved by circumstances which show habitual sexual intercourse.”

What Exactly Counts as Adultery?

Just about any kind of fornication, sexual acts or cohabitation with a new (or old) love interest that is not your spouse counts as adultery. This includes infidelity, two-timing, fooling around, playing house, carrying-on, hanky-panky, liaisons, flings, affairs, and extramarital sex of any kind.

Unlawful Cohabitation in Mississippi

Unlawful cohabitation, also known as “shacking up” is also considered adultery in Mississippi. This means that it is against the law to live with another person, a romantic interest, while you’re still married. It isn’t just grounds for divorce. It’s an actual crime in the Great State of Mississippi. No matter how badly you want to move in with your new boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to go through the proper channels for a divorce first. It can cost you more than just alimony. It can lead to an arrest. While it is extremely rare to see anyone prosecuted for adultery, and some would argue this law is not constitutional, better safe than sorry, right?

Three Types of Mississippi Divorces
  1. Irreconcilable differences agreed upon by both spouses.
  2. Irreconcilable differences, but spouse can’t agree on terms.
  3. Divorce on “fault grounds.”
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce
  • Natural impotency
  • Adultery
  • Being sentenced to prison
  • Desertion
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Habitual use of opium, morphine or similar drug
  • Habitual cruel and inhumane treatment
  • Having mental illness or intellectual disability that petitioner didn’t know about
  • Marriage to another person
  • Pregnancy of the wife by another person, if husband didn’t know about pregnancy prior to marriage
  • Being related to petitioner
  • Incurable mental illness
Proving Adultery in a Mississippi Divorce Case

Proving adultery as a crime or in a divorce case requires above all else that proof or evidence be made available. This evidence can include testimony, photos, videos or correspondences between lovers. When claiming adultery as the grounds for divorce in Mississippi, two things have to be satisfied.

  1. Adulterous nature: This can include information about infatuations or a person’s proclivity to adultery.
  2. Reasonable opportunity: Did the person have a reasonable opportunity or opportunities to satisfy that proclivity or infatuation?
Types of evidence
  • Testimony
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Correspondence
What about Forgiveness?

Forgiveness can make a difference in your case too. Adultery is ‘uncondoned’ sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex, who is not your spouse. This basically means that you don’t have permission from your spouse to have extramarital relations before the fact and you were not forgiven after the fact. If the affair happened years ago, and your spouse has forgiven you, that changes things in your case.

Emotions Running High

Understandably, if adultery is going on or if a spouse or potential ex-spouse suspects adultery, emotions are going to be running high. This isn’t your typical, impersonal crime between strangers. Whether you’ve been married for a few months or 20 years, adultery can complicate your divorce, your relationship with loved ones and your criminal record.

When to Speak with an Experienced Lawyer

If you have been accused of adultery, arrested for adultery, suspect your spouse to be cheating, you need to speak with a competent and experienced lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can advise you of your rights during a difficult and confusing time.

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