Woman Flees Miss. to Get Divorce She's Sought Since '01
Getting a divorce in Mississippi requires consent of both spouses
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2017 9:03 AM CST
Attorney Carey Varnado, at podium, argues Mississippi should find a way to grant a divorce to his client, a DeSoto County woman who married another woman in California in 2008, during oral arguments before...   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(Newser) – A divorce is a hard and pricey thing to get in Mississippi, though that doesn't necessarily stop people—one recent study found that the state's divorce rate is seventh highest in the country. What sets it—and South Dakota—apart from the rest of the country is that without a true "no-fault" divorce law, if one spouse doesn't want the divorce, it can be just about impossible to end a marriage. So reports USA Today in a lengthy feature on the state of divorce in Mississippi. "It made my skin crawl," says Elizabeth Freels, one of several people the paper profiled, after learning about her state's divorce laws when she tried to leave her husband of seven years in 2001. Her husband vowed that if he couldn't have her, "No one will." Freels was stuck. "I said, 'Are you kidding me?' ... Even in Saudi Arabia you can get a divorce if you want one. Here, you're at the mercy of another person."

Without the money to go through a lengthy court battle, Freels continued to live with her husband until 2005, when she moved their three kids to another town and filed for divorce, even though she knew her unemployed husband wouldn't pay child support. She was still in divorce limbo when their youngest child left for college in 2015, so Freels left behind friends and a good job for Washington state, where she quickly got the divorce she wanted. USA Today also interviewed a woman who fled an abusive husband, but because it's not considered "cruel and inhuman treatment," she can't divorce him without his approval, which he refuses to grant. "If someone's not living with their husband, if they are afraid of them, I'm sorry, that's not a marriage anymore," she says. "That's a piece of paper that is causing 21st century slavery." Read the full USA Today article.

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