Archive for September, 2014

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Provides an Overview of What Happens to the Marital Home During a Divorce

Monday, September 29th, 2014

If you and your spouse own a home and you plan to get divorced, you probably already know that the issue of what to do about your marital home will be a major topic for discussion and debate. There are a few different ways in which couples can approach the marital home issue, and it is useful to know what your options are.

The first thing that any divorcing couple in Mississippi should know regarding their marital home and divorce is that Mississippi is an equitable distribution state, as far as dividing marital property is concerned. This means that the property settlement must be fair to both parties, when it is considered as a whole. The concept of overall fairness is important when it comes to evaluating the options for disposing of a marital home.

One option is very straightforward. If neither spouse wants the house, the best thing to do is sell it and then split the proceeds from the sale as part of the property settlement. Things get a little more complicated if one or both of the spouses want to keep the house, because that actually involves multiple considerations. There is the issue of whether it is just one spouse who wants to keep the house (which makes things a bit easier), or whether both of them want to keep it. There is also the issue of whether the spouse or spouses who wish to keep the marital home can in fact afford to do so. An assessment of whether someone can afford to keep the marital home involves creating a future budget which would show whether that party’s post-divorce income could support paying the expenses of owning the home in addition to all of their other living expenses. Of course, there is plenty of room for debate and discussion on both of those issues in any given divorce case.

Once a couple has decided that one of them should have and can pay the expenses of owning the marital home after the divorce, then the discussion must turn to how the “purchase” of the home will be dealt with in the context of the overall property distribution. The first step in this process is determining the value of the marital home. If the parties agree on the home’s value, then they can proceed to discussing which assets the other spouse could receive as their share of the property settlement in order to effectuate a buyout of the marital home. If there is disagreement about the home’s value, the parties can use comparative analysis either jointly or separately to determine the value of the home. If, after using comparative analysis the parties still do not agree, the parties can get a joint appraisal or individual appraisals. If no agreement on value can be reached at that point, the issue of the home’s value could be decided at trial.

Disposition of the marital home is a major issue in many Mississippi divorce cases. 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 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 Divorce Attorney Discusses Art and the Marital Estate

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

There are many different types of assets that divorcing couples may have in their marital estates. From household goods and bank accounts to investment accounts and properties, each different type of property must be divided in a manner which is fair, in context with the overall property distribution. While some assets, like bank accounts, can be easily split in half or divided into any proportion of shares that the divorcing couple would like, there are other assets which are not so easily divvied up.

Some couples have one or two valuable pieces of art. Some have none at all. Other couples have fairly extensive art collections. When couples who own art divorce, the art is part of their marital estate and must be part of the overall property distribution.

Whether a couple owns one painting or several sculptures, it can be difficult for them to agree about who should get which pieces of art. Some pieces have been in families for a long time, and have sentimental value to one spouse for that reason. Other pieces may have been acquired during the marriage, and might hold significant meaning for one or both of the spouses. Complicating matters even more is the fact that pieces of art have value, and that value must be considered in light of the overall property distribution. Also, there may be possible tax consequences associated with art ownership and acquisition.

If you or your spouse bought or inherited pieces of art before you got married, those pieces are considered separate property and do not have to be divided along with the marital estate. Each party takes away from the marriage any separate property that they brought into it, unless the parties’ actions during the marriage essentially “made” it part of the marital estate. Also, in Mississippi, inheritances received during the marriage are often considered separate property, so if you inherited art during your marriage, you may be able to keep it as separate property.

If you and your soon to be former spouse own art as part of your marital estate, the first thing you should do is make a careful inventory of your entire collection, including photographs, information about when and how each piece was acquired. Each piece in your inventory should also have a current appraisal. Some couples choose an appraiser together, while others opt for separate appraisers.

After you and your soon to be former spouse know what art you have and how much it is worth, you can begin discussing how to divide your collection, in light of how you have decided to divide your other assets. Mississippi is an equitable distribution state, so couples must come up with an overall property distribution scheme that is fair.

Works of art are just one of many possible categories of items that a divorcing couple must decide how to divide. To learn more about how Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you, call our office today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free initial consultation.

 

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses Drug Use as Grounds for Divorce

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

One of the fault-based grounds for divorce which is recognized by the State of Mississippi is habitual and excessive drug use. The statutory description of divorce on the grounds of drug use states that “divorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for … habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine, or other like drug”. MS § 93-5-1

As you can see from the statute, there are certain criteria which an injured spouse must prove in order for the court to grant them a divorce based upon the grounds of habitual and excessive drug use. The statute contains three distinct elements for which the injured spouse must present evidence.

The first element of divorce based upon drug use is that the spouse’s drug use must be habitual and frequent. Since there is not a one-size-fits-all definition of habitual or frequent drug use, the courts have provided some guidance on the issue through their decisions. In 1983, the decision for the case of Ladner v. Ladner stated that a party who seeks to show habitual drug use must show regular drug use, because a single instance of drug use or infrequent drug use is not habitual. The court’s decision in Ladner also addresses the second element of a drug use divorce, whether drug use is excessive, by stating that a spouse who uses drugs excessively is one who is unable to refrain from doing so whenever the opportunity arises. Ladner v. Ladner, 436 So. 2d 1366, 1374 (Miss. 1983)

The third element of a divorce based upon drug use is that the drug involved must be “opium, morphine, or (some) other like drug”. MS § 93-5-1 If your spouse’s drug of choice is not the opium or morphine which is explicitly described in the statute, you must show the court that it should be viewed as some “other like drug”. Fortunately, a fairly recent 2011 Mississippi Supreme Court case provides guidance on this very topic. The drug at issue in the case of Carambat v. Carambat, 72 So. 3d 505 (¶¶ 36-41) (Miss. 2011) was marijuana. In that case, the court held that the husband’s use of marijuana, which the wife demonstrated had affected his ability to work and to support his family, and which had caused him to become isolated from his family, was comparable to the use of opium or morphine, which can cause users to behave in a similar manner.

Anyone who is contemplating a Mississippi divorce would benefit from seeking assistance from a Mississippi Divorce Attorney, whether their divorce is fault-based or not. Divorce is a major life event, and you deserve to have someone who can advocate strongly for you as you go through it. Your attorney can help you with any questions that you may have regarding divorce in Mississippi. 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 Divorce Attorney Answers a Few Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Mississippi Divorce

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

If you are contemplating getting divorced in Mississippi or you have recently been served with divorce papers, there are likely to be many questions floating around in your mind. While an attorney cannot help you with questions like “should I divorce my spouse”, I can certainly provide you with information that is pertinent to your situation from a legal perspective. The following are questions that I frequently encounter in my Mississippi Divorce Law practice.

I am often asked whether Mississippi recognizes no-fault divorces. Couples may obtain a no-fault divorce on the basis of irreconcilable differences in Mississippi only if both spouses agree to do so. If one spouse does not agree to an irreconcilable differences divorce, then the plaintiff must state at least one of the twelve fault-based grounds for divorce which are recognized by the State of Mississippi. Those grounds are adultery, bigamy, incest, desertion, habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, idiocy, insanity, pregnancy with another person’s child at the time of marriage, impotency, habitual drunkenness, incarceration, and habitual and excessive drug use.

Prospective clients sometimes ask whether they have to be a Mississippi resident to get a Mississippi divorce. There is a residency requirement for Mississippi divorces which requires that at least one spouse must reside in Mississippi for six months or more before they file for divorce. As far as where within the state to file for divorce, that depends upon whether you and your spouse are pursuing a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce. No-fault divorces may be filed in the county where either spouse resides, and fault-based divorces must be filed in the county where the plaintiff lives if the defendant does not live in Mississippi or their whereabouts are unknown.

Another question which is often on the minds of prospective clients is how the distribution of marital property is handled in Mississippi. Mississippi is an equitable distribution state, which means that couples are free to divide their marital estate as they see fit, as long as the overall result of the proposed distribution is fair. Please keep in mind that fair does not always mean equal, and that it is unlikely that the two of you will walk away from your marriage with identical dollar amounts of property.

Questions about the cost of a Mississippi divorce are also very common. Since each divorce is unique, there is no single price which can be quoted to divorce clients. There are variables which do tend to increase or decrease costs, and the largest of these variables is whether your divorce case settles or goes to trial. Couples who settle their divorce cases pay far less in legal fees than couples who take their divorce all the way to court for a judge to decide one or more of the issues.

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 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 Divorce Attorney Reveals the Truth Behind Common Divorce Myths

Friday, September 5th, 2014

There is a lot of information out there about divorce, and only some of it is true. Fortunately, the truth is out there, and knowing the truth about the following divorce myths can be helpful.

Perhaps the most oft-cited statistic regarding divorce is that the United States divorce rate is fifty percent. While this is partially true when you consider all divorces as one group, the statistic on its own does not point to the difference between first, second, and third marriages. As you might imagine, divorce rates do vary depending upon how many times the parties have been married. First marriages have a forty percent divorce rate. Second marriages have a sixty percent divorce rate, and third marriages have an even higher divorce rate of seventy three percent. While statistics have nothing to do with the individual decision that each couple makes to divorce, knowing the correct statistics can help to put things into perspective.

Some statistics can serve to scare people away from divorce. It is essential that you thoroughly research any information that you find concerning, to see whether there are other studies which have arrived at different conclusions than the information that you initially read. For example, one book about divorce states that a woman’s standard of living drops by over seventy percent after divorce, while a man’s standard of living increases by over forty percent. Fortunately, other studies have arrived at different results. While the other studies still indicate a loss for women and a gain for men, the numbers are much smaller and closer together, at twenty seven percent losses for women and ten percent gains for men. The latter numbers are much easier to accept if you are a woman who is divorcing or who is considering divorce. Perhaps more importantly, your divorce does not have to proceed according to the numbers. It is entirely possible that your loss or gain in the area of standard of living could be even smaller than the number estimated by the statistics.

These are just two common myths regarding divorce in America. Divorce laws vary from state to state, so it is important that you assess any information that you hear or read with the knowledge that that information may not apply in your home state, depending upon what the divorce laws say on the issue. Since divorce is a major life decision, it is essential that you have all of the information that you need before you decide how to proceed. A Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to understand the laws regarding divorce in Mississippi, and how those laws apply to your particular situation. Your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can also 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 Attorney Explains Why You Should Stay Away From Facebook During Your Divorce

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Divorce attorneys everywhere have an important message for their clients and potential clients. The message involves social media, including and especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, and your attorneys would like you to know that these websites could affect your divorce. Not only that, but there is the risk that your use of those websites could affect the outcome of your divorce in a negative way.

This suggestion to drastically limit or eliminate social media use is not likely to be a popular one, but it is important. There are several reasons why social media use has the potential to cause trouble for people who are divorcing, or who are contemplating divorce. One reason is that your social media connections are not always looking out for your best interests. Also, you may not have as much control over your online privacy as you think you do.

One factor which makes social media use complicated for people who are divorcing is that they often have many mutual connections with their soon to be former spouses. From close friends and family to acquaintances, if even just one of these mutual “friends” chooses to align themselves with your spouse instead of with you, they could provide your spouse with a great deal of information about your online activity. Keeping a low profile until your divorce is finalized can help you to keep your private life private, and avoid providing your spouse or their attorney with information that they could hold against you during the negotiation process, and even in court.

In addition to social media activity, other communications like texts and emails can also be used as evidence in divorce cases. To ensure that your spouse and their attorney have as little information to hold against you as possible, do not say anything in any form of electronic communication that you would not want a judge to see.

While keeping information about yourself out of the public eye during your divorce is a good idea, it is also important that you understand that your soon to be former spouse’s social media, texts, and emails could help you to discover whether they are being untruthful in their communications with you about your divorce, or whether there are any things going on like hiding assets or having an affair which should not be happening. If a friend or family member alerts you to concerning information that they have seen, let your attorney know about it so that they can investigate it, in case it is in fact relevant to your divorce case.

Divorce is not easy. While staying off of social media is not easy either, it can at the very least make divorce less complicated and less stressful. A Mississippi Divorce Attorney can also help you to have a less complicated and less stressful divorce. 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.