JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A new bill on domestic violence and divorce in Mississippi is making it’s way to the House of Representatives next week.
The author is District 77 Representative Andy Gipson, who received some backlash for criticizing a senate bill that addressed domestic violence as a grounds for divorce.
Senate Bill 2703 died in the the House Judiciary B committee, on Tuesday.
Gipson, who is also the committee chair, told us that the bill died because domestic abuse is already covered under the law as “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.”
But today, he said the bill didn’t address the right problems.
In his words, “judges don’t apply the habitual cruel and inhuman treatment uniformly across the state…You’ve got some judges who won’t ground divorce for any type of abuse. You’ve some who grant it willy-nilly…The issue is the evidence and how do you prove it. And that’s not as much law as it is the application of the law by the judges.”
The draft of the bill Gipson showed us Friday specifies that testimonies from abuse victims can be used as evidence. It also says that one attack could be enough to be deemed habitual.
“This legislation is going to provide the clarification…judges need to know what is physical abuse that warrants this type of divorce. What is the non-physical, emotional, verbal etc. abuse that warrants this type of divorce,” Gipson said.
Center for Violence Prevention Executive Director, Sandy Middleton posted on the organization’s Facebook that they have worked with Gipson on the language of the new bill, and are happy with the changes.
Gipson said that his bill is ready to go before the House on Monday. He’s confident that it’ll pass.