Archive for March, 2014

Timeline of a Mississippi Divorce

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

One of the questions that many divorce clients have is how long their divorce case will take, from start to finish. Since each divorce case is unique, each couple will spend a different amount of time going through the divorce process. That said, it is possible to provide a basic explanation of the common paths which many Mississippi divorces follow.

When a divorce is based upon irreconcilable differences, and the divorcing couple agrees to all of the matters relevant to their divorce, their case usually lasts at least a few months. In this type of case, a couple exchanges financial disclosure forms and signs a joint complaint for divorce, child custody and property settlement agreement, and a final judgment of divorce. These forms are filed with the Chancery court, which reviews them and decides whether or not to approve them. While this seems like it would take weeks, as opposed to months, there may be some discussion or negotiation which is involved as the couple works through the forms and each of them makes their wishes known to each other about how they wish to proceed. Some issues may be easy, such as deciding that each spouse will keep his or her own vehicle. Other issues require more thought, such as what the family’s schedule will be like moving forward. The amount of time that it takes each couple to work out the details of the various aspects of their divorce is the primary deciding factor in how long their divorce will take.

Divorces which are based on grounds for fault can last for a year, or even longer. In Mississippi, at-fault divorce cases must go to trial. Trials require a great deal of preparation. There is evidence to gather and witnesses to examine; there are exhibits to prepare and many other tasks to complete. These are the cases in which the complaint for divorce is based upon one of twelve statutorily recognized reasons that couples would need a divorce. At-fault cases require the person who filed the complaint for divorce to provide proof of the grounds that they alleged in their complaint. There may be multiple grounds present in any given divorce complaint. The person who has been served with the complaint for divorce has the opportunity to present a defense to the stated grounds for divorce.

Some divorces involve a combination of agreements between the parties and decisions issued by the court. For example, if a defendant spouse is served with divorce papers and they do not want to contest the grounds for divorce, they may stipulate to the grounds. Further, if the couple is able to agree about other matters relevant to the divorce in addition to the grounds, such as parent child contact or property distribution, they may make stipulations on those matters as well, leaving the Chancery court to decide only one or a handful of issues on which they cannot reach agreement. Irreconcilable differences divorces may fall into this category as well, with a stipulation as to the reason why the divorce is needed and agreements about some, but not all, of the issues which must be decided. These hybrid cases are not able to be resolved as quickly as an irreconcilable differences divorce case where all matters are settled by agreement, but they do not take as long as a typical at-fault divorce case, either, because there are fewer matters which are being prepared for presentation to the Chancery Court.

To learn more about how Jackson area divorce attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you, call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free initial consultation. We have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to help you get results, regardless of how challenging or complex your case may be.  Contact us now to find out how we can make a difference for you.

What Are The Grounds For Divorce in Mississippi?

Friday, March 21st, 2014

When an individual decides to file for divorce in Mississippi, they must state the reason or reasons why they wish to do so, unless they prefer their divorce to be based upon irreconcilable differences.  For those who wish to express why they wish to file for divorce, it is important to realize that the State of Mississippi recognizes twelve reasons, or grounds, for divorce. When you choose which ground or grounds you will include in your complaint for divorce, be aware that you will have to provide evidence to support those grounds. Your soon to be former spouse will also have the opportunity to present a defense, or to assert that you are unable to supply adequate proof of the grounds for divorce.

There are a few things which are grounds for divorce in and of themselves if you can show that they exist. These include adultery, bigamy, natural impotency, imprisonment, incest, and incurable insanity. All of these grounds make sense, when you consider that a marriage is a union based on trust, honesty, and a desire to be with each other, to the exclusion of other people.

Situations involving trickery and/or manipulation can also give rise to grounds for divorce. For example, if a woman is pregnant at the time of her marriage and the child that she is carrying is not the biological child of the husband, this can later be grounds for divorce if the husband can show that he was unaware at the time of the marriage that the child was not his. If one of the spouses was married to someone else at the time that they pretended to marry their current spouse, it is grounds for divorce. Also, if a person is insane at the time of the marriage but the person who marries them is unaware of the insanity at the time of the marriage, it can be grounds for divorce.

Other grounds for divorce not only require proof that there is some sort of problem, but that the problem occurs on a regular basis. These persistent problems are actually some of the most common grounds for Mississippi divorces. For example, habitual drunkenness and habitual drug use are grounds for divorce, where occasional intoxication or drug use do not rise to the level of grounds for divorce. Willful desertion must be continuous for a year or more, before the spouse who was left behind will be legally recognized as having been deserted. Cruel and inhumane treatment is another ground where part of the proof must speak to its pervasiveness within the marriage. For the purposes of obtaining a Mississippi divorce, cruelty involves such inhumane treatment that the marriage becomes unbearable for the spouse who is being treated cruelly, and the mistreated spouse is in danger of being harmed or has reason to fear that they will be harmed. Interestingly enough, cruelty is the most frequently cited grounds for divorce.

If you would like to file for divorce, whether you are pursuing a divorce based on one or more of the statutorily recognized grounds for divorce or a no-fault, irreconcilable differences divorce, Jackson area attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you. Matthew S. Poole offers his clients the caring and compassionate support that they need during a difficult time in their lives. He also helps them to pursue resolutions to their divorce cases which are meaningful and satisfactory to them, so that they may move forward in their lives. To find out how Matthew S. Poole can help you, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free initial consultation.

Property Division in Mississippi Divorce Cases

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

One major aspect of any Mississippi divorce is the division of the couple’s property. Sometimes, a couple will decide on their own how to divide their property. Other times, the couple leaves the task of dividing property up to the Chancery Court. One thing which it is important to remember is that for the purpose of divorce, property includes both debts and assets. Also, there are two types of property, marital property and separate property. In a Mississippi divorce case, marital property is divided equitably between the parties.

The first step in the process of figuring out which spouse will get which property is deciding what items in the parties’ possession are marital property, and which are separate property.  Normally, most property is marital property, because marital property includes all things that the parties acquired during a marriage. It even includes property which was brought into the marriage by one of the spouses or inherited by one of the spouses if that property has been shared with or used by others in the family. For an item to truly be considered separate property it must not only have been brought into the marriage or inherited by one party, it must also have been kept separate throughout the course of the marriage.

Once the property has been classified as marital and separate, the Chancery Court will divide it in an equitable manner. It is important to note that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Also, the equitable distribution takes into account whether either spouse has any separate property, and how much they have. The spouses’ personal and financial contributions to the marriage and the family are considered, in order to recognize that both economic and noneconomic activities are essential to a marriage, home, and family. Interestingly enough, the Chancery Court also tries to divide property in such a way that transactions which could prove difficult in the future, such as payments from one party to the other, are avoided as much as possible, in favor of a property distribution that makes things as final as possible upon the finalization of the divorce.

In many cases, once the couple’s property is equitably divided, each party will have the resources that they need in order to support themselves. If one of the parties will have less than they need, the Chancery Court may order the other party to pay alimony. An award of alimony has multiple components, including the amount of the payments, how often the payments will be made, and for how long payments will be made.

While the Chancery Court will divide property when a couple is unable to agree about how to do it on their own, it is also responsible for examining and either approving or disapproving the property settlements which couples propose as part of their divorce settlements. Since you and your soon to be former spouse know better than anyone else which items are most important to each of you, and what division of property would make the most sense for both of you, it is worth your while to try to reach an agreement on the issue of property distribution. Any such agreement is likely to leave both of you happier than a distribution which is made by the Chancery Court.

Jackson area attorney Matthew S. Poole is an experienced divorce attorney with unmatched skill in negotiation and a proven track record for achieving favorable settlements.  Matthew strives to help each of his clients obtain their divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible.  To this end, Matthew will work with you to resolve your divorce case in a way 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.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement, and Do I Need One?

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Prenuptial agreements are something that many people have a strong opinion about, regardless of whether they fully understand them or not. Some people think that prenuptial agreements are only used by wealthy people, or celebrities whose marriages are highly likely to end in a divorce anyways. Other people believe that prenuptial agreements are unromantic, because they seem to acknowledge that the couple anticipates that their marriage may one day end in divorce. The truth about prenuptial agreements is that while they are not necessary for all couples, they can be a useful tool for some couples to use to protect the interests of both parties in the event of a divorce.

A prenuptial agreement is a document which a couple negotiates and signs before they get married. It may contain provisions for any assets or responsibilities that the couple wishes to include. The agreement becomes valid upon the date of the marriage. If the couple later divorces their assets and other responsibilities will be apportioned according to the terms that they included in their prenuptial agreement.

If you are wondering what kinds of things couples use prenuptial agreements for, here are a few examples. If you own a business, a prenuptial agreement can be very useful because you can use it to protect your interest in the business that you have worked hard to create. Couples with children from a previous relationship often use prenuptial agreements to ensure that they will have the resources that they need to provide for their children after a divorce. If a family has owned a piece of real estate for several generations and it is important that the real estate continue to be owned by members of the family, a  prenuptial agreement can be used to enable the current owner to keep that property in the event of a divorce, instead of splitting it with their spouse. You could also use a prenuptial agreement to ensure that you will be able to keep an important piece of personal property, such as a family heirloom, if you divorce.

One of the most important things to know about prenuptial agreements is that they are legally binding documents. Prenuptial agreements involve full financial disclosure, so be prepared to exchange financial statements with your prospective spouse. It is important that you allow yourself and your prospective spouse plenty of time to negotiate and finalize a prenuptial agreement well in advance of your wedding. It is also essential that each of you works with your own Mississippi family law attorney to ensure that the agreement is fair, and that it is valid. A single attorney cannot legally represent the interests of two parties, as it would create a conflict of interest.

Your attorney can help you decide what kinds of provisions to include in your prenuptial agreement based upon what is important to you. They can also work with the attorney of your soon to be spouse, to negotiate an agreement which is fair to both of you. Mississippi courts will not enforce a prenuptial agreement which is so one-sided as to be unfair, or which was signed under duress, or pressure, from the other party.

Whether you have been presented with a premarital agreement and you are considering signing it, or you wish to create a premarital agreement which will protect your assets, you need the assistance of an experienced Mississippi family law attorney. Matthew S. Poole is a renowned family law attorney in Mississippi, with a reputation for exceptional legal service.  Call Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule you free initial consultation.

What To Do If You Have Been Served With Mississippi Divorce Papers

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Unless you were expecting that it might happen, the experience of being served with Mississippi divorce papers may come as a complete shock to you. As surprised and upset as you may be, it is possible for you to give your soon to be former spouse a surprise of their own by taking prompt and decisive action. It is possible that they wanted the divorce papers to catch you off guard, and to upset you. They may expect that you will wallow in your feelings and take a passive role in the divorce proceedings while they obtain a favorable result and move forward with their life. Fortunately, it is possible to feel whatever you are feeling about receiving the divorce papers while you take action to protect your interests and take an active role in how your divorce proceeds.

The first thing that you should do upon receiving Mississippi divorce papers is to read them thoroughly. While reading divorce papers is likely to bring up many unpleasant feelings, it is essential that you read and understand the papers so that you know exactly what is going on. Acknowledge the feelings that arise, and do not hesitate to seek support from friends, family, and others who can help you during this difficult time. As you read through your divorce papers, questions may come to your mind. Write the questions down so that you can remember them later on.

Once you have read through the divorce papers, it is time to choose a Mississippi divorce attorney to represent you in your divorce. Divorce is a major life event, and there is too much at stake to approach it without a knowledgeable and experienced professional by your side. Contact the attorney of your choice right away, so that they can begin working with you to get your response to the divorce paperwork filed in a timely manner. Mississippi divorces involve various forms, and there are consequences for parties who fail to adhere to the filing deadlines for those forms. For example, failure to respond to divorce papers could result in a default judgment being entered against you.

In addition to filing your response to the divorce papers in a timely manner, your divorce attorney will also do something that could make your life a lot less stressful. Once you are represented by counsel, your attorney can begin communicating with your soon to be former spouse, or their attorney, if they have one. Let your attorney know if there are issues which require immediate communication, such as arranging for a temporary parenting schedule and ensuring that your family’s bills get paid on time. Although your attorney will be communicating with your soon to be former spouse and/or their attorney, it is possible that your soon to be former spouse may still try to speak with you directly. If this happens, say as little as you can and politely ask them to contact your attorney. Aside from saving yourself from unnecessary stress, keeping communication with your soon to be former spouse to a minimum ensures that they will not obtain any information from you that they could try to use against you during your divorce case.

A third thing that your Mississippi divorce attorney can do for you is answer any questions that you may have about your divorce. From those initial questions that you wrote down as you read through your divorce papers, to questions which come up as you work through your divorce, your attorney can help you to find the answers that you need. To learn more about how Jackson area divorce attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you, call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free initial consultation.

What You Need to Know About Settling Your Mississippi Divorce Case

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

If you are involved in a Mississippi divorce, you may wonder whether your divorce case will end in a trial. Perhaps you and your soon to be former spouse are having a hard time deciding how you will share custody of the kids. Maybe you are currently fighting over who will get to remain in the marital home. You may not even be speaking to each other at all. Whatever your situation is, it is still very likely that your divorce case will end in a settlement instead of with a trial. After all, ninety five percent of all divorce cases settle, so the odds of reaching a settlement are in your favor.

There are two major reasons for the high rate of settlement in divorce cases. The first reason involves the issue of why people are motivated to settle their divorce cases. There is actually a very powerful incentive for couples to settle their divorces. This incentive is that settling a divorce gives the parties the power to decide how to share custody of their children, how to divide their property, and how to address any other issues relevant to their case.

Even couples with high levels of interpersonal conflict are able to realize that both parties will get more of what they want out of their divorce if they create their own divorce settlement instead of letting a judge decide it for them. It makes a great deal of sense, if you think about it. The parties know what property they have, and they know which items are most important to each of them. A property settlement that they work out on their own will therefore allocate their assets and liabilities in a more satisfactory way than a property settlement that is dictated by a court. Couples with children know what parenting schedules would work for their families, so any parent child contact schedule that they arrive at through settlement is going to be better for them than a custody order which is created by the court.

The other major reason why most divorce cases are able to settle has to do with how settlements are reached. Many divorcing couples have problems communicating, and it is not unusual for the parties to be unable to speak with each other in a calm and reasonable manner. Once the parties retain attorneys, communication usually improves because the parties communicate through their attorneys instead of directly with each other. They can help the parties to create settlement offers and propose those offers to the other party’s attorney. When a proposal comes in from the other party, the attorney can explain it to their client and offer advice as to whether or not the proposal is reasonable.

Mississippi divorce attorneys are skilled at helping couples reach settlements so that they do not have to spend the time and money on going to trial. The advice of an experienced divorce attorney is essential for evaluating proposed settlement offers. Your divorce attorney can help you to obtain a divorce settlement that reflects your wants and needs. Matthew S. Poole is a seasoned Mississippi divorce attorney with unmatched skill in negotiation and a proven track record for achieving favorable settlements. Matthew cares about his clients, and works hard to help each client obtain their divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Matthew S. Poole will work with you to settle your divorce in a manner 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 consultation.