Archive for January, 2014

Mississippi Supreme Court to Re-Visit the Issue of Child Support for Disabled Adult Children

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

The Mississippi Supreme Court is set to take another look at an interesting child support question it first addressed several months ago.  In June of 2013, the Supreme Court heard a case arising out of Hinds County in which the plaintiff sought a modification of child support as well as alimony from her ex-husband for the care of their adult son who suffered from a serious medical ailment.  The court agreed with the chancery judge who had denied the request for modification.  It reasoned that the current state law does not require parents to financially support their children once they attain the age of 21.  Further, the Legislature has not passed any law requiring parents pay support for disabled children over the age of 21.  Accordingly, the court saw no justification for granting a modification of support.

The case now before the Supreme Court is strikingly similar but will concern a different legal question—which might make all the difference in the decision of the justices.  The case arises out of Madison County and again involves a disabled child over the age of majority.  Here, however, the justices have asked the parties and the attorney general’s office to provide briefs on the issue of whether the denial of child support to disabled children over the age of 21 violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment where the disabled child is incapable of self-support due to a mental or physical limitation.

This equal protection issue was actually raised by the Supreme Court on its own, and not by the parties.  In the original Hinds County case, Justice Leslie King spoke for the minority and felt the case should be returned to the chancellor who could then determine whether the disabled child should ever have been considered emancipated.  Emancipation is defined as the age at which the child leaves the control of a parent, and in Mississippi this age is 21.  However, according to King, where the child is disabled before reaching the age of 21, and is incapable of self-support, he or she is unable to be emancipated and child support should thus continue until his or her status changes in this regard.  The majority, however, rejected this argument, finding the child support duty of a parent does not extend beyond the age of 21, and only the legislature has the power to grant the authority to require the parent provide support beyond this period.

Many other states have statutes specifically in place requiring continued support for disabled children even after they have attained the age of majority.  Still others allow awards of child support to adult disabled children through case law precedence.  The case now before the Supreme Court could have significant implications for the parents of older disabled children.  Often, caretaker parents of disabled adult children are left shouldering a significant burden.  Though their child is over 21, they continue to require physical and financial support.  While it seems the Supreme Court is attempting to craft a means of ordering child support for adult disabled children through the equal protection argument, time will tell whether the majority of the justices agree.

Matthew S. Poole has helped thousands of parents secure the child support necessary to adequately provide for their child’s wants and needs.  With years of experience in the realm of divorce law and expert knowledge in the field of child support, Matthew will fight for you to receive the support your children are entitled to.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney States The Top 10 Reasons Marriages End in Divorce

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Divorce has become sadly commonplace today.  In America, there is a divorce every 13 seconds.  This amounts to over 6,500 divorces per day and 46,000 a week.  Over 50% of all first marriages end in divorce within eight years.  Of second marriages, the divorce rate climbs to a staggering 65%.  Those between the ages of 25 and 39 are most likely to obtain a divorce, and the average age of couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.

As these statistics demonstrate, nearly everyone has been affected by divorce, whether it be their own or that of a family member, or friend.  To this end, we have prepared the following list of the top 10 reasons marriages end in divorce to help inform you of the causes of divorce.

  1. Finances—money is most often cited as the cause of divorce in America.  It is not generally money itself that leads to divorce; rather it is a lack of compatibility in the financial arena.  Disagreements over monthly spending, a lack of adequate funds, and differences of opinion on investments are all common topics that lead to dissention in a marriage, and possibly divorce.
  2. Lack of communication—a successful relationship requires the sharing of feelings, thoughts, and opinions.  It also requires active listening.  Couples who end up divorced often lack essential communication skills.  Without the ability to communicate effectively, spouses cannot solve marital problems.  As problems continue to fester, divorce may be the avenue turned to.
  3. Unmet expectations—both spouses enter the marriage with a set of expectations.  When expectations are unmet, strain often occurs in the relationship.  Discussions prior to marriage concerning each of your expectations and desires entering into the relationship can help avoid this pitfall.
  4. Not enough commitment to the relationship—couples often cite a lack of commitment as a cause for divorce.  Marriages take nurturing and work, which spouses tend to forget as time passes. 
  5. Lack of time together—a cornerstone of a strong relationship is allowing yourself time to connect with one another.  Without that bonding time, a marriage will wither.  Couples soon find themselves living disconnected lives.  Absent talking, laughing, and creating memories together, a marriage ceases to be a union.
  6. Child-rearing issues—adding children to a marriage can put stress and strain on the relationship. Arguments over parenting decisions and responsibilities can lead to major marital rifts.
  7. Religious or cultural strains—religious beliefs or cultural values can lead to conflict, particularly where they affect a spouse’s way of life or parenting choices. 
  8. Infidelity—cheating, or the violation of mutually agreed upon boundaries that the couple develops, is a top cause of divorce.  Infidelity can be very painful for those who experience it and often signifies the end of the marriage.
  9. Boredom—after many years together, couples can become bored with each other or their life style.  Divorcing spouses often report that they felt “stuck in a rut.”  To avoid this breakdown in the relationship, new activities and experiences can keep a marriage fresh.
  10. Physical, psychological, or emotional abuse—while physical abuse is the most commonly recognized form of abuse, abuse can come in many varieties.  It can consist of controlling behavior, such as monitoring phone calls or restricting a spouse’s activities.  It can also include name calling, ignoring, or criticizing.  Anyone who suspects they are in an abusive relationship should seek professional help immediately. 

At The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole, we have firsthand knowledge of the most common causes of divorce.  No matter what the reason for your divorce, we can help.  Matthew S. Poole is a Jackson area divorce attorney of distinction.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Provides 5 Steps You Should Take to Have an Amicable Divorce

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

The term divorce has become nearly synonymous with expense, acrimony, stress, and drawn out litigation.  Often, fear of a costly and bitter divorce leads spouses to postpone initiating the process though divorce is clearly in their best interest.  However, with the right approach, divorce does not have to be demoralizing or tear apart your financial future.  Divorce can be quick, smooth, peaceful, and financially beneficial.  While divorce will never be painless, it can be as stress free as possible.  Below is a list of five steps you should take to achieve an amicable divorce:

  1. Agree to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences—Mississippi is one of the few states that does not allow for no-fault divorce.  However, spouses can file for divorce based upon irreconcilable differences if both parties agree to the divorce.  If there are no contested issues, the divorce can be granted 60 days after the petition is filed.  By having you and your spouse agree to and seek an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you will obtain a divorce in as short of time as possible, with very little stress, and no emotional allegations of fault.
  2. Turn to mediation early on—if you and your soon to be ex spouse do not agree on certain divorce issues, it is best to seek mediation as soon as possible.  Mediation is a highly successful process and able to bring most divorces to settlement.  If your goal is an amicable divorce, mediation is often the way to achieve this while still being able to advocate for those divorce issues you care most about.
  3. Retain an attorney who is settlement minded—it is important that your attorney supports your wish for an amicable divorce.  An attorney who seeks conflict and courtroom battles will be a poor choice to lead you to a controversy free settlement.  Instead, look for an attorney who will zealously fight for the best settlement possible while always keeping in mind your goal of maintaining harmony.
  4. Put the children first—often, one of the strongest motivating factors for achieving an amicable divorce is concern for the children involved.  While issues like custody, child support, and visitation are all important and require resolve, it is crucial that divorcing spouses approach each of these with their child’s best interest in mind.  When parents are able to set aside their own emotions over the divorce, they will be better able to make harmonious decisions as to custody arrangements.  Achieving an amicable divorce will be your first step towards successful co-parenting for years to come.
  5. Focus on creating a new life and do not cling to former assets—divvying up assets is often one of the most painful and controversy filled aspects of a divorce.  Rather than becoming bogged down in arguing over assets which is sure to lead to feelings of hurt, divorcing spouses should focus instead on the new life they are about to enter.  Leave the asset division to the attorneys, who will articulately argue for you to receive those assets you are entitled to.

Matthew S. Poole is an experienced divorce attorney with unmatched skill in negotiation and a proven track record for achieving favorable settlements.  As a compassionate attorney, Matthew strives to see every client obtain their divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible.  To this end, Matthew will work with you to successfully accomplish an amicable divorce that will leave you emotionally and financially ready for your new post-divorce life.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Explains if Your Ex Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support Obligations in Mississippi

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

You depend upon your court ordered child support amount each month to provide for your child’s basic needs.  When that check does not arrive on time, it can have severe negative repercussions for your family and finances.  Sadly, a significant portion of the U.S. population is constantly grappling with the problem of unpaid child support.  An estimated 11.2 million child support cases have arrears due in each year.  For those parents whose former spouses are behind on child support, numerous enforcement options do exist.  The following is a look at the various enforcement methods available for those spouses struggling to obtain the child support they are entitled to.

  1. Civil contempt action—child support is a court ordered obligation, meaning that one who fails to comply with the order can be found in contempt.  Contempt is defined as the willful and obstinate violation of a court order.  Civil contempt proceedings can be initiated in chancery court.  The complaining party must make a prima facie, or initial showing that the court has ordered child support and it has not been met.  The non-custodial or owing party will then have a chance to rebut, generally arguing either support is not due or the party is unable to pay the ordered sum.  The purpose of civil contempt is remedial.  In some instances, the owing parent will be placed in jail, which is intended to coerce compliance.  Each day in the U.S., an estimated 50,000 people are put in prison each day for failing to pay child support.  The Supreme Court recently determined that debtor parents do not have the right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings.  A knowledgeable divorce attorney can assist you in filing your contempt action, and the contempt process is a powerful tool for obtaining the child support you are entitled to.
  2. Credit Bureau Reporting—the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Enforcement exists, in part, to enforce child support orders.  The Child Support Program has the ability to report the non custodial parent’s delinquency to the credit bureau.  In that way, your former spouse’s failure to pay child support can have a serious impact on their ability to finance purchases.  This can be a strong motivator for your former spouse to stay on top of child support obligations.
  3. License suspension—the Division of Child Support Enforcement also has the ability to suspend or even revoke your delinquent ex-spouse’s drivers license as well as professional or business licenses.  Stripping your former spouse of his or her ability to drive or engage in business is a powerful tool towards coercing compliance.
  4. Passport revocation—a parent who owes more than $2,500 in child support will have his or her passport revoked or application for a passport denied.  In order to travel again, your former spouse would be required to become current with child support payments.
  5. Court ordered employment—Mississippi courts can actually order the non custodial spouse to get a job so that they can afford to provide child support for their children, thereby eliminating the owing spouse’s excuse that they cannot afford to make payments.

If your former spouse is behind on child support payments, Matthew S. Poole can help.  Matthew is a Mississippi divorce attorney with years of experience in contempt proceedings.  Matthew understands how devastating it can be when your former spouse fails to comply with his or her child support obligation.  He will take all necessary steps to get you the support you deserve.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.