JACKSON – The law regarding domestic violence as grounds for divorce was clarified through an amendment offered by Representative Andy Gipson in the Mississippi House of Representatives today.

The amendment was added to Senate Bill 2680, which clarifies alternative relatives that may care for abused and neglected children. The amendment aims to define what the divorce statute “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” entails. The amendment says that this could include abusive physical conduct, either threatened or attempted, or abusive non-physical conduct, including threats, intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse.

The measure allows for divorce to be granted after the testimony of one or more credible witnesses, any of whom may be the victim.

“I am very pleased that the Mississippi House of Representatives has adopted a set of clear evidentiary guidelines on the important issue of domestic abuse divorce,” said Gipson. “These guidelines will provide real and immediate help to domestic violence victims, as well as assistance to judges statewide as they consider domestic abuse divorce cases.”

Gipson pointed out that the real problem was that precedent set in previous cases to protect victims of domestic violence was not being applied by courts in a consistent manner.

“We recognize there has been a lack of uniform application of the law from county to county by judges who may, for whatever reason, choose to interpret and apply the law differently,” said Gipson. “Our amendment made to Senate Bill 2680 directly addresses this underlying problem.”

Gipson said he would specifically like to thank the Mississippi Center for Violence Prevention and Executive Director Sandy Middleton for their assistance in working with legislators toward this solution, as well as Speaker Gunn and the several House members who took an interest in working together to draft this amendment.

The amendment passed by a voice vote and Senate Bill 2680 passed by a vote of 118-0.