Revised domestic violence divorce amendment passed in the House
JACKSON, Miss. — After being shot down by Representative Andy Gipson, a bill that would help domestic violence victims has now been revised and unanimously passed in the House on Monday.
Rep. Gipson received severe criticism after killing two divorce law reform bills without a vote through angry messages, phone calls and social media posts. According to The Clarion Ledger, Gipson said last week that current law already covers domestic abuse, and that he opposes no-fault divorce on grounds of separation because it could “open the floodgate” and cause more divorces.
One of the bills killed by Rep. Gipson would have added “including domestic abuse” to the existing, “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” ground for divorce in the state of Mississippi. Many say the state’s existing antiquated and expensive divorce process creates a disadvantage for low-income domestic violence victims.
After working with an anti-domestic violence group, Rep. Gipson was able to come up with a solution that he introduced as an amendment to another bill Monday. He stated, “The women who called me and talked with me, having conversations with them about their situations very much helped to shape this citizen-based solution.”
The amended bill, Senate Bill 2680, which was added to a bill dealing with the custody of abused children, would clarify that the abused spouse may testify as witness to the abuse. This, in turn, would make proving domestic abuse in divorce cases much easier.
The amendment also clarifies that only one instance of either physical or non-physical abuse such as verbal or emotional abuse is sufficient to prove the habitual cruel and inhuman treatment ground for divorce.