Bill to make domestic violence grounds for divorce fails - - Jackson, MS

Bill to make domestic violence grounds for divorce fails

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

A bill that would make domestic violence grounds for divorce in Mississippi has failed.

It's a shocking blow to those who dedicate their life to helping women escape violent relationships, but the lawmakers behind the bill said they are not giving up.

"We were devastated," Lorine Cady said.

Cady, Founder and Executive Director of House of Grace, works with women in domestic violence situations and was hoping the bill would pass. She was not alone in her feelings when the news of the bill's failure reached House of Grace.

"Disappointed," House of Grace counselor Judy Thompson said.

For Cady and Thompson, it's simplely inexplicable how domestic violence is still not a legal grounds for divorce in their state.

"It is shocking that you can mistreat your partner and there's no penalties for that, that you must just continue to live in that," Cady said.

Thompson counsels battered women and said the current law provides for 12 legal grounds for divorce, but none protect abused spouses. For domestic violence survivors who turn to the courts to get out, they said the system is re-victimizing them.

"It's been a struggle and we were hoping that struggle was over," Thompson said.

State Senator Sally Doty was the sponsor of Senate Bill 2418 and said it wasn't the domestic violence part that killed the bill.

"The House added an additional grounds for divorce, which would be separation for at least two years and that additional grounds is actually what ended up killing the bill," Senator Doty said. "I think certainly all of my colleagues in the senate understand the seriousness of domestic violence."

It was the other grounds added on that officials said clouded things for them. Sen. Doty said she's disappointed, but plans to re-introduce the bill next legislative session. 

"I will be a bit more strong and try not to allow anything to be tagged along with it that would kill it next year," Doty said.

Cady said it leaves her hopeful, but it means another year of domestic violence survivors being stuck in abusive marriages.

"In some ways, we've come a long way, but this has set us back a little bit," Cady said. "I think they made a mistake this time.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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