Every so often we get asked the question: “My spouse is in jail – can I get an annulment or a divorce while they’re in there?” The laws in Tennessee and Mississippi are very clear on that matter – in Tennessee, the statutes state, as grounds for divorce, “Being convicted of a crime that, by the laws of the state, is declared to be a felony, and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary.”
(Tennessee Code – Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-4-101 and 36-4-103)For Mississippi the statutes read much the same:“Being sentenced to any penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.”
(Mississippi Code – Sections 93-5-1 and 93-5-2)
Generally we advise against attempting to obtain an annulment on the grounds of a spouse’s imprisonment, as an annulment is much more difficult to get. It is a much simpler process to obtain a “no fault” divorce (based on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences”) than it is to get an annulment.
When pursuing a no fault divorce, all you have to do is have your attorney complete an marital dissolution agreement, sign it and have your spouse sign it. You are not required to see your spouse – we can get the paperwork sent to them in their facility, and include envelopes for its return. This option is best when you and your spouse agree on a divorce, child custody arrangements, and property division. We recommend you seek a divorce lawyer that offers a flat fee service for this process. If you and your incarcerated spouse are in disagreement over whether or not to get a divorce, how to handle child custody, or who gets what property, you also have the option of filing for a “fault” divorce, on the grounds of “conviction and imprisonment.” In this case there will be more negotiation, more court visits, and it is likely that the court will order all parties into mediation to resolve any disagreements. With this type of divorce, you will have to show proof of your spouse’s conviction and imprisonment. At most divorce lawyer’s firms the fees for this kind of divorce will be on a retainer basis.
The thing to remember from all of this is that it is possible to get a divorce from a spouse in prison. If they have been convicted of a felony and there is some disagreement involved in the divorce, you are able to seek a divorce based on the fact alone that they are in prison for a felony. (Remember: they must still be in prison at the time of filing for divorce!) As your attorney we are able to get paperwork to and from them, and even to keep your address out of all filed documents to keep you as safe as possible.
Call us today at 901-754-1340 if you have any questions on this or other divorce topics.