Archive for July, 2014

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Asks: How Detailed Should Our Parenting Plan Be?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

If you are involved in a Mississippi divorce and you have children, you may wonder whether it is to your benefit to have a parenting plan which contains many details, or whether a more basic plan which consists primarily of a parenting schedule would be better. Some parents may feel as though a plan that is too detailed would be too rigid, and not flexible enough to grow and change with the family. Other parents may feel as though every last detail should be spelled out, so as to minimize the potential for future conflicts.

While there is no one size fits all suggestion for the level of detail that should be included in a divorcing couple’s parenting plan, couples who opt for plans which include more details are often more successful than those that are more open-ended. It is true that a parenting plan should be constructed with some degree of flexibility, to account for the changing needs of children as they grow and of parents as they navigate life after divorce. It is also true that plans which contain fewer details regarding the rules and expectations of the parties as they move forward create a high likelihood of conflict as issues arise which are not covered by the parenting plan, and the parties disagree as to how they should be handled.

The parenting schedule is a very important part of the parenting plan, and it is an area in which changes may be needed down the road. In addition to setting up a schedule that works for the family at the present time, parents could establish a procedure for reviewing the schedule periodically and making changes as needed. Including that additional detail helps parents to be aware that the schedule is likely to need various adjustments over time and provides a framework for doing so. If that procedure is not discussed, the parents are likely to follow the current schedule until it no longer works and then disagree about how to adjust it.

Another issue that parties may not think to include in a parenting plan is how and when new partners should be introduced to the children. Since that might not be something which is an issue at the current time, parties may feel like avoiding it because it could be a hard discussion to have. It is an important discussion, though, as there is a high likelihood that one or both parents will eventually meet someone new. Moving forward with a plan in place will make for far less conflict than attempting to address it when one parent begins dating someone and wants to introduce them to the kids.

College expenses are also sometimes overlooked, particularly in cases where the children are very young. Whether there is an expectation that the kids will go to college or not, it is advisable to have at least some idea of how the two of you will help your children through the transition into adulthood. If there is not any discussion about this issue while the kids are young, it can create a lot of stress, disagreement, and resentment later on as the kids grow and begin to form ideas about what they would like their lives as young adults to look like.

Your parenting plan can include as much detail as you would like. A Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to pursue a parenting plan that will meet your present and future needs as well as those of your children. To find out how Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you create a parenting plan that works for your family, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Offers Tips on Talking With Your Kids About Your Divorce

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

If you feel as though you are going to have more difficulty speaking with your kids about your divorce than you had telling your spouse that the marriage was over, you are not alone. Many parents dread having the “we’re divorcing” conversation with their children, because they fear that they will cause emotional damage while doing so. Parents who do feel this way most likely want to have that conversation in the most gentle and positive manner possible, so as to reassure their children that they are and will always be loved and safe. Since conversations about divorce are difficult for both kids and adults, it is important that you wait to have the conversation until you know for sure that the divorce is going to happen.

Advance preparation is essential for a smooth and successful conversation with the kids about your divorce. If ever there were a conversation that should not be had on the fly, this is it. Since a divorce involves both parents, talk with your spouse ahead of time about how and when the discussion should take place. It is best for both parents to be present during the conversation, so plan to have the conversation at a time that will work for both of you and for all of the children. Be sure to leave enough time for the conversation itself, and for you to address the emotions that arise and the barrage of questions that are likely to ensue following such a major announcement.

Don’t let your spouse off the hook after you have set the time and date for the conversation. Work together to set up ground rules for the conversation, and plan out which topics you will address. At the very least, establish an expectation that you will not blame each other, you will refrain from saying negative things about each other in front of the kids, and, perhaps most importantly, that you will not pressure the kids to take sides. As far as subject matter is concerned, it is best to stick to the basics, and to information that will help the kids understand how the divorce is likely to impact their lives.

When the time comes to have the conversation, follow your game plan. Keep it simple and age appropriate, but be sure to give the kids enough information about how the divorce will affect their day to day lives to help them understand what the future holds. If many things will be remaining the same, as far as daily and weekly routines, do not hesitate to emphasize that because it can help kids to feel secure. By the same token, don’t avoid discussing the ways in which things will be different, because when kids have advance notice of changes that will take place in their lives, they are often better able to process them when they happen. Above all, offer plenty of reassurance that the divorce is between you and your spouse, and that it is in no way about them.

While you and your spouse are the ones who must do the heavy lifting as far as talking to your kids about divorce, your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can take care of many of the details regarding your divorce so that you are free to tend to the needs of your children during this time of transition. To find out how Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you with your divorce, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Explains the Role of Home Appraisal in Divorce Cases

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The marital home is often the most valuable asset that is owned by divorcing couples. Mississippi courts divide property equitably, or fairly, in divorce cases. It can be challenging to come up with a fair way to dispose of an asset which is likely to have more value and personal significance than any other asset that a couple owns. Couples are free to create property division agreements that address the issue of the marital home in any way that they see fit. There is one thing, however, that no couple should forego when considering their options regarding the disposition of their marital home.

A current appraisal is essential for any couple that must decide the disposition of their marital home as part of their divorce. Appraisers do far more than estimating a home’s fair market value. They research the legal issues associated with the property, including the chain of title and whether there are any liens on the property. They take a close look at the property, by visiting it and checking on its size, condition, and other attributes, and then they search the neighborhood for comparable properties that have recently been sold. An appraiser takes all of the information that they have collected and analyzes it in order to calculate the value of the property.

Since spouses who are divorcing have interests that are opposed to each other, it is important that each spouse get his or her own appraisal done. In cases where finances are very tight and only one appraisal is feasible, the couple should select the appraiser together and be present together when the appraisal happens. It may be tempting to try to save some money by foregoing the appraisal and using a real estate agent to perform a competitive market analysis instead. It is not a good idea to do this, as competitive market analyses do not include the level of detail that an actual appraisal does, nor does it include the legal and financial research that is part of the appraisal process.

One common mistake that divorcing couples make during the appraisal process is trying to influence the conclusion of the appraiser. It is understandable that each party wants the appraisal to come back with a value that is favorable to them, especially since they may be in a position where one spouse wants to buy out the other. Despite the natural tendency to want to nudge the odds in your favor, it is best to refrain from doing anything to try to influence the appraiser’s decision. Answer questions honestly, and let them do their work. Appraisers are professionals who are held to high ethical standards. As such, they are obligated to ignore outside pressures so that they can provide an objective assessment of the home’s value.

If you are planning to get divorced in Mississippi, the disposition of your marital home is just one of the issues that you will have to address. Your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can explain the Mississippi divorce laws as they apply to your particular situation, and they can help you resolve your divorce in a way that works for you. To find out how Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you navigate the divorce process, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Explains Three Reasons Why to To Mediate Your Mississippi Divorce

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

If you are wondering whether there is a way to avoid taking your divorce all the way to court, you can rest assured that there is. When you retain a Mississippi Divorce Attorney to represent you in your divorce case, they will communicate with your soon to be former spouse’s attorney regarding potential ways in which the two of you could reach an agreement regarding the issues that are to be decided in your case. Some divorce cases are indeed settled prior to trial through the efforts of attorneys working together to turn the ideas of their clients into mutually palatable agreements which cover child custody, property division, and other issues related to divorce. Divorces that are settled in this manner are said to be settled through negotiation.

Negotiation may work well for some couples, but not as well for others. In many cases, it is useful to try a different type of alternative dispute resolution called mediation. Mediation is similar to negotiation, but it also involves a third party, the mediator. The mediator is neutral, and does not represent either party. Their role in the mediation process is to keep the conversation going, to help parties work through the rough spots, and to ensure that discussions remain productive. Because the mediator does not represent either party, the parties attend mediation with their attorneys, who advise them as to the possible legal ramifications of proposed agreements.

Mediation gives couples two very important things when it is used to settle a divorce. It gives them much greater control over the outcome of their case, and it saves them both time and money. Since mediation can address any and all issues relating to divorce, couples can use the process to create highly customized property divisions that meet each of their needs far better than any property settlement that a judge might order. They can create custody and visitation schedules that fit their family’s needs and lifestyle perfectly, as opposed to having to adjust their lives to a schedule that is imposed upon them by someone who does not know the full story about their day to day lives. Alimony, child support, and other issues can also be addressed through mediation in a way that reflects the unique needs of the parties. Since mediation happens outside of the court process, cases are likely to be resolved more quickly and at less cost to the parties, even after accounting for the cost of the mediator’s services, which are usually shared by the parties.

If you are planning to get divorced in Mississippi, it is essential that you speak with an attorney who understands the divorce process. Your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can explain the Mississippi divorce laws as they apply to your particular situation, and they can help you resolve your divorce in a way that works for you. To find out how Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you navigate the divorce process, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Lawyer: Is It Time to File For a Mississippi Divorce

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

While some people do a great deal of thinking prior to filing for divorce, others file for divorce impulsively, in the heat of the moment. Divorce is a serious undertaking, and should involve a great deal of thought and planning, especially as to the timing of when you will file for divorce if you come to the conclusion that it is what you need to do. While there are many things to think about in the months or even years leading up to a divorce, there are a few topics that should certainly not go unexplored.

Sometimes, the problem that you are having with your spouse right now is a sign that things need changing within the relationship, instead of a sign that the relationship must end. Attempting to work through a serious issue with a significant other can clarify whether your relationship is header for higher ground, or whether divorce is the likely result. In other words, whether divorcing is the right choice for you may be less about the problem at hand then it is about how your spouse responds to your suggestions for addressing it. There is a big difference between a spouse who acknowledges that the problem is indeed very serious, engages in respectful conversations with you about how the two of you could address it together, and follows through with their part of any plan that the two of you make to resolve it and the spouse who looks at you after you inform them that there is a problem and asks you what you plan to do about it.

If you are feeling more and more like you need to divorce your spouse, be honest with yourself about how you plan to deal with the emotional aspects of a divorce. Make an honest assessment of whether you are ready to process all of the intense emotions that are inherent in the process of divorce. Make a plan for how you will address the wide range of emotions that you will feel. Your plan can include anything that you think will work for you, from counseling to talking to friends or spiritual advisors, or any other method that you think will meet your unique needs. If you can accept that your divorce will be an emotional experience, then you are well on your way to being ready to weather the storm. If, on the other hand, you think that the experience of leaving your marriage can be accomplished with little to no emotion, you may want to think about it a bit more before proceeding.

Planning for the practical aspects of your divorce is just as important as planning for how you will address the difficult emotions which are part of the divorce process. It is essential that you have a plan in place for where you will live, how you will support yourself and your children, and so on, before you file for divorce. When you do have a plan ready to go, you can file for divorce with the confidence that you are ready to take that step and move forward into your divorce.

Once you are ready to file for divorce, it is time to seek the assistance of a Mississippi Divorce Lawyer. Your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to define your goals and pursue a resolution of your divorce case that will help you to meet those goals. To find out how Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you with your divorce, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Discusses Assigning Value to the Contributions of a Homemaker

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Mississippi law requires that the marital assets of a divorcing couple be divided equitably, or fairly, when they part ways. When a married couple marries, the parties begin contributing to something bigger than just themselves – the household. There are many things that go into maintaining a household, and earning income is just the tip of the iceberg. Even for couples without children, married people do things in their roles as spouses and keepers of the home which contribute to the well-being of the household as a whole. When children are part of the picture, their parents take on the roles of mother and father.

The collection of assets that are considered to be marital property in any divorce is always far more extensive than the very narrow list of things which the court will consider as separate property. This means that most assets are to be divided equitably. Full disclosure of all debts and assets is an important part of the divorce process, so that each spouse can see what, exactly, the pool of marital property looks like that they will be dividing.

When one spouse foregoes a career outside of the home to fulfill the role of homemaker or stay at home parent, they enable the wage earning spouse to “do their thing”, so to speak, without having to concern themselves with many of the other things that go into maintaining a household and/or raising children. In this way, they contribute to the acquisition of marital property, and sometimes even to an increase in the value of separately held property.

Divorce can be a scary thing for a homemaker/stay at home parent, because the income which they relied on for their day to day needs will no longer be a part of their lives in the same way that it had been during the marriage. A divorcing homemaker is likely to be very concerned with how they will be able to support themselves and their children, if they have any, after the split. After all, divorce means that they will need to secure separate housing and all of the things that go into maintaining it, as well as having money to put food on the table and pay for all of the things that they and their children need.

Fortunately, the non-economic contributions of homemakers and stay at home parents are recognized by the courts, which go through a process of listing all of the things that the homemaker spouse has done to contribute to the household, and assigning an approximate value to them so that an estimate of their total contribution can be calculated. Each homemaker spouse’s list is unique, so no two will have the same value. The contributions of the wage earning spouse are likewise assessed, with values being assigned not only to wages earned, but to professional licenses and college degrees, because if those were acquired during the marriage, the activities of the homemaker spouse may have played a large role in making those things possible.

A fairly recent estimate of the “salary” that would be due an average homemaker based upon the work that they do was calculated by financial news source Mint.com to be a little over ninety six thousand dollars a year. If you are a homemaker and you are reading this for the first time, it’s okay to be a little surprised, because it is very likely that you did not realize just how much your contributions are worth, in an economic sense. Of course, the facts of each case vary, with some duties being outsourced in some homes and some duties being shared in others.

If you are a homemaker or a stay at home parent who is planning to get divorced in Mississippi, it is essential that you speak with an attorney who understands how to calculate the worth of your contribution to the household. Your Mississippi Divorce Lawyer can explain the Mississippi divorce laws as they apply to your particular situation, and they can help you resolve your divorce in a way that works for you. To find out how Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you navigate the divorce process, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.