Archive for November, 2014

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Divorce Preparedness

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, know that it is much easier to do so if you do a bit of advance planning. Taking time to prepare for your divorce before filing not only ensures that you will have access to the information that you will need for your divorce case, it also helps you to refrain from filing for divorce for a while so that you can be assured that you are making the decision that is right for you.

How, then, does a person prepare to file for divorce? One good first step to take is to select a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys can help their clients to prepare for divorce, file for divorce, and work through the divorce proceedings. Once you have decided which attorney will help you with your divorce, it is time to get started on some action items that you can do at home.

A clear knowledge of your family’s financial situation is essential to your divorce. It is difficult to plan for what you want to take away from your divorce if you do not know what resources you and your spouse have and what debts you must divide amongst yourselves. Gather information about everything that you and your spouse own, all of your debts, and both of your incomes. In order to ensure that there is as much to divide up as possible, stop incurring debt as much as you can once you know that you will be getting divorced.

Since you will be setting up your own household as the result of your divorce, it is important that you plan for that, too. Make a budget, so that you can know for sure how you will provide for your needs. While it may be tempting to move out of your house right now, it is important that you do not move out just yet unless your safety is in jeopardy due to violence in your home. Moving out involves a lot of planning, so be sure to take time to look for a new place to live as part of your divorce planning preparations so that you will be ready to make your move at the appropriate time.

As you plan for your divorce, it is a good idea to keep in mind that your life is about to become an open book for a while, as you and your soon to be former spouse exchange all kinds of information with and through your attorneys as you work through the divorce process. As unfair as it seems, your behavior during this difficult period of time could have an impact on the outcome of your divorce case. While you may feel like doing things like going to parties, dating, and otherwise enjoying things that may become part of your life after your divorce, it is a good idea to keep a low profile until after your divorce is final. Many divorce cases are able to be settled without a trial, and thus proceed more quickly than one might expect, so you will be free to do as you wish very soon.

As you plan for your divorce, know that Jackson, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you. If you have questions about filing for a Mississippi divorce, please call us today. at (601) 573-7429, and arrange for a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Divorce for Military Personnel

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

If you are a military service member or you are married to one, you may have heard the term “military divorce” What you may not know is that while there is not actually a specific type of legal proceeding that is called a military divorce, there are things that make the divorces of service members and their spouses a bit different than divorces that do not involve service members. Some of these things, like whether one of the spouses is on active duty in a location far away from their state of residence, affect how long the divorce will take. Other things, like the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) affect the substance of the divorce settlement.

If you are a service member or you are married to one, it is important that you understand the USFSPA, a federal statute which affects your rights in the event of a divorce. Among other things, it enables states to classify a service member’s military retirement pay as property under some circumstances, instead of income. This classification means that in certain situations, a portion of the service member’s military retirement pay can become part of the collection of marital property which gets divided up in the property settlement of a divorce.

The circumstances which determine whether military retirement pay becomes part of the property settlement in a service member’s divorce is the amount of time that the couple was married during the military spouse’s service career. The rank of the military spouse also factors into the calculation of the amount of retirement pay available to the former spouse.

The unique lifestyle of military families also has an impact on what happens when service members divorce. Spouses of service members who have children are often responsible for a much larger share of the child care and parenting responsibilities than parents who have non-military careers. In families where the non-military parent does not work outside of the home, or works very little due to the amount of time that they devote to parental duties, an award of spousal support may be appropriate. As is the case in all families, the difference in income between the spouses weighs on child support calculations.

Child custody is also a bit different for military families because deployments greatly affect the amount of time that the military parent is available to spend time with their children. Fortunately, divorcing couples are free to create parenting plans that meet the unique needs of their families. Military families are therefore free to design parenting plans that place the children with the non-military parent on a full time basis and provide for liberal parent-child contact when the military parent is not deployed.

While there is not a special type of legal proceeding for military divorces, there are things that make military divorces different than civilian divorces. If you are a service member or the spouse of a service member and you are considering filing for divorce in Mississippi, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you. Please call us today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses Legal Separation

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Legal separation is available in most places in America. There are only a handful of states where legal separation is not an option for couples. Mississippi just happens to be one of the few states in America where legal separation is not available. Fortunately, due to information that people have shared about their experiences with legal separation, it does not appear as though you are necessarily missing out on anything.

Legal separation occurs when a married couple decides to live separately and enters into a binding agreement about how to distribute their assets and manage their debts while they do so. When a couple is legally separated, they are neither married nor divorced. While this may seem like a fine place to be because it does not involve being committed to a course of action in either direction, a recent survey of married, divorced, and separated Americans revealed that being separated is more stressful than being divorced. Even more importantly, the additional stress that separated couples feel is also felt by their children.

When a couple decides to divorce instead of separating, there is certainly going to be some stress during and after the divorce process. However, people who have divorced are able to experience closure. The importance of closure is not to be underestimated. It is what people can gain their strength from as they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move forward. In contrast, people who are separated live each day with the uncertainty that comes along with being in a situation that was once a marriage but is not yet a divorce. They could be moving towards reconciliation, and a week later they could be closer to filing for divorce, but somehow they never get all the way to either outcome.

Of course, separation is about more than just the relationship between the spouses. There are economic considerations, too. Living separately costs more than living as part of a household, so people who are legally separated have the additional stress of finding a new place to live and figuring out how to pay for their living quarters, food, gasoline, and all of their other bills. Family cell phone contracts may be cancelled and replaced by single-user contracts. Utility bills do not usually get cut in half when one person moves into a new place. If someone stays in the marital home, they are not likely to notice a huge drop in the cost of utilities due to the other person’s absence. The same applies to the person who moves out and gets an apartment or somewhere else to live – they are not likely to notice whether there are any savings on utilities, and, if such savings do exist, they are likely to be minimal. The economic element of legal separation adds more stress to the lives of people who are legally separated.

Children whose parents are separated instead of divorced also live with the uncertainty that surrounds their parents’ relationship. They don’t know which way the relationship will go. They also experience the shift from one household into two, which is just as stressful as it would be for a child whose parents decide to get divorced. They are also unable to experience closure, to move on from life as a family with married parents to life as children of divorce.

If you have been considering divorce in Mississippi, know that there is no middle ground. If you have a question about your Mississippi divorce, please contact Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Shares a List of Items to Update Following Your Divorce

Monday, November 10th, 2014

For many people, receiving a final decree of divorce feels good because it symbolizes a fresh start and an opportunity to move forward. In order to be able to make the most of your fresh start, it is a good idea to update a few key documents right away. In order to help you move forward after your divorce, we have compiled a list of key documents that you should revise once your divorce becomes final. If you choose to take care of these items right away, they cannot cause headaches and inconveniences for you later on.

If you have a will or a trust, it is important that you update your beneficiaries as soon as you are divorced. This is one item which, if left to be done “later”, can cause a lot of trouble in the event that something happens to the testator before they have changed the will or trust to reflect their wishes.

Tax forms like the W-4 are essential for the accurate assessment of taxes. When it comes to taxes, you want to ensure that you are being charged the proper amount at all times, in order to avoid being stuck with a refund that is smaller than what you should receive or a tax bill that is larger than you ought to be paying. Sure, you may be able to straighten out some tax questions while you are preparing your taxes or even after the fact, but making divorce-related changes to your withholding and any other applicable tax-related documents as soon as you can after your divorce becomes final could save you time and money.

When parents divorce, they may find themselves depending upon new and different child care providers. Additionally, your children will be spending some of their time with you and some of their time with their other parent. For these reasons, you should make sure that Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent forms filled out for you, your children’s other parent, and all people who provide child care for your family, so that your children will be given appropriate medical care in the event of an emergency. Your health care documents may also need updating as the result of your divorce. If you have made a Medical Power of Attorney or a Health Care Directive, make sure that those documents accurately reflect your wishes regarding who should make important health care decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated.

If property was transferred to you as part of your divorce, you will want to update the titles for each automobile, piece of real estate, or other item of value to reflect the change in ownership, as well as the change in your name, if you have changed it. If you have changed your name, it is also important to get new a new social security card and a new driver’s license so that your identifying documents match your current identity.

Your divorce is a time of great change in your life, change which extends far beyond adjusting the various forms and documents that are important for day to day life. Jackson, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can answer your questions about the changes that are happening in your life as the result of your Mississippi divorce. Call us today at (601) 573-7429 to arrange for a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses Divorce for Married Business Partners

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Many businesses throughout America are owned and operated by married couples. If a couple who owns a business decides to get divorced, they must also decide whether they will remain in business together. Whichever way they decide to proceed, they will have to make some complicated decisions along the way.

For some couples, their business relationship seems to have a life apart from their marriage. They may be quite unhappy at home while continuing to grow and manage a successful business together. These couples may choose to end their marriage and separate their home lives while keeping their business relationship and business ownership intact. In a divorce like this, the spouses would work with their divorce attorneys to ensure that their property settlement reflects the continued joint business ownership in whichever way the couple feels it is appropriate. It is important to address the issue of the business during the divorce, because business assets are generally considered to be a part of the collection of property which gets divided up during a divorce, either by the couple themselves or by the court, if the couple cannot agree on how to distribute it.

Couples who own businesses may also decide to completely disentangle their lives from one another. In situations where the interpersonal conflict is simply too great to continue living or working together, the couple will work with their divorce attorneys to try to determine a fair way of dealing with the business in the property settlement. For example, if the business is dear to one spouse and they want to assume complete ownership and control of all operations, they may offer to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the business. If neither spouse wants the business, they may decide to sell it and split the proceeds. Couples can be as creative as they want to be when it comes to choosing what course of action that they will take regarding the disposition of their business.

Sometimes, couples may find it difficult to agree on anything except for the fact that they want to be divorced and end their business relationship. In contested cases like these, divorce attorneys work with business valuation experts to gather evidence about what the couple’s business is worth. The attorneys take that information, together with any information that they have regarding their clients’ wishes for how the business shall be disposed of, and present it to the court, which then issues a ruling on how the business shall be disposed of.

If you are divorcing and you are in business with your spouse, you may already know that your divorce is unique. You need an attorney who understands the complexities that come along with splitting up a home and a business or going in different directions in your personal lives while staying in business together.  Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you to navigate the complexities that go along with divorcing and staying in or getting out of a business relationship. Call (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Shares Helpful Tips for the Holiday Season

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Whether this is your first holiday season as a person who has divorced or is divorcing, or you have been divorced for a while, it is a good idea to think ahead about what you plan to do during the holidays and what you are likely to feel as you embark upon the season. The range of emotions that you are likely to experience will be much easier to weather if they do not take you completely by surprise. You will likely find plenty of holiday cheer, but it is best not to expect that every day will be merry and bright. Here are a few things that you may find helpful at this time of year.

There may be holiday gatherings that you have enjoyed for years which will not be on your holiday calendar this year. Perhaps you enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with your spouse’s parents each year, or the two of you attended a gathering every year with a group of friends. It is only natural to miss those familiar and enjoyable traditions, and to feel some sadness that they are no longer a part of your holiday festivities. Fortunately, you are likely to have other traditions which you will still participate in, like Christmas dinner with your parents or New Year’s Eve with your cousins. There is also now room in your holiday calendar for new events. Perhaps you have found a wonderful group of new friends who have invited you to a dinner party. You may have time to plan something extra special for the kids, like going caroling or having a sledding party.

If you have children, you are likely to be following a schedule of holiday events which includes some time with the kids as well as some time when they will be in the care of their other parent, attending holiday events with them. This can be difficult to experience sometimes, because you may long for the times when all of you were together for all of the holiday events. It may take time for that feeling to subside, but you may be able to take comfort in the fact that the parenting schedule provides your kids with a holiday experience that may be largely the same as it has been in the past, which is important for them because routines and traditions create a feeling of security.

Some parents fall into the trap of trying to overcompensate for the fact that they may now have less time with their kids during the holidays than they have in the past. This can be difficult to do, because your budget may already be stretched as far as it can go. Fortunately, the things that your kids want most from you this holiday season won’t empty your wallet. Children love spending time with their parents, doing things that everyone can enjoy. Even if your parenting time is limited, your kids are sure to remember the wonderful time that you shared, even if the activities involved were relatively simple things like baking holiday treats, sledding, or choosing and decorating a Christmas tree.

The holiday season is sure to bring up many emotions for you, both pleasant and unpleasant. If you have questions or concerns about navigating the holiday season as a divorced or divorcing parent, please contact Jackson, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to arrange for a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses Parenting Plans for Teenagers

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

If you are the parent of one or more teenagers, you may wonder whether your parenting plan should look any different than a parenting plan which was created for or by parents whose children are younger. Every child is unique, and teenagers are no different. The best parenting plans are those which are created by parents who take each child’s individual needs and interests into consideration as they design a plan that will work well for the entire family.

Parenting plans for younger children often emphasize stability, predictability, and routines. These things are of great importance to children, because feeling secure in their home environment enables them to learn, grow, and be successful at home, in school, and in the community. Providing a sense of security is still important as children grow into tweens and then into teenagers, but the things that parents can do to provide that security may look a bit different than they did when their children were younger. Parents of teenagers may want to include more flexibility in their parenting plans, and fewer set schedule items or routines in order to enable their teenagers sufficient freedom to choose what kinds of things they do in addition to school, such as having a job, playing sports, and spending time with friends. Of course, if there are younger children in the household, it is important to include routines and predictability which will meet their age-appropriate needs. Parenting plans which combine plenty of freedom for teenagers to decide what to do and when with firm rules and boundaries helps teenagers to feel empowered to make choices for themselves while providing clear guidance on the subject of which choices are supported by their family’s guiding principles.

Since there is likely to be a great deal of flexibility in a parenting plan for a family with teenagers, it is important that everyone is on the same page as far as which scheduling tools they will use, and how they will communicate. When selecting these things, keep in mind that scheduling tools and communication platforms are only effective if everyone in the family understands how to use them and uses them all of the time. For this reason, it is important to involve your teenagers in the decision, so that the entire family can always be on top of who is doing what, where, and when, as well as what the expectations are regarding communication.

As children grow into teenagers, their wants and needs change. Some discussions that teenagers may have with their parents involve things like dating, purchasing a car, getting a driver’s license, going to college, and other major decisions. These types of things can be troublesome for divorcing parents if they have not talked with each other about these topics ahead of time and come up with some guidelines about how they plan to proceed with these and other potential hot-button issues. The decisions to not all have to be set in stone at the time of divorce, but there should be at least some discussion about who gets to participate in helping the teenagers in the family make each of those decisions, as well as any general feelings about the ways that each parent feels about each of the issues.

If you have a question about how to design a parenting plan that will work well for your teenager and your entire family, please contact Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Shares a List of Topics to Address in Your Divorce Case

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

One common concern that divorcing clients often have is that they might miss something important as they negotiate or litigate their divorce. Fortunately, working with a qualified Mississippi Divorce Attorney greatly reduces the likelihood of that happening. Divorce attorneys know exactly what questions to ask their clients to ensure that issues which are relevant to their lives are addressed in their divorce cases.

Many people find it helpful to know which things they will have to think about during their divorce before they speak with an attorney. For each topic that is a part of your life, think about what you want out of your divorce. You may find that it is helpful to write down your thoughts, so that you can share your divorce goals with your attorney.

If you have children, planning for their care, support, and custody is likely to be a top priority. Not only will your divorce case address parenting time, it should also address how your children’s physical needs will be provided for. Child support, health insurance, and payment for extracurricular activities and tuition are all topics to address in divorce proceedings between parents. Parents are also able to claim income tax exemptions, and divorcing couples must decide who will claim which children on their tax return each year.

Divorcing spouses must establish their own households and figure out how they will pay for their material needs like shelter, food, clothing, transportation, and the like. If you or your spouse has been out of the work force because they are a stay at home parent, spousal support may be a topic of discussion for your divorce. Likewise, spousal support may be an issue for older couples who have been married for a long time. The property division aspect of your divorce case, where you decide who will be responsible for which debts and who will keep which assets and household goods plays a huge role in providing divorcing spouses with at least some of the items and resources that they will need as they establish their own households. From furniture and automobiles to pensions and bank accounts, there are often many topics to address during the property division part of a divorce case. If there is a marital home, the issue of what to do with it is also a major item for discussion and decision.

Your own health insurance needs are an important part of your divorce, as are those of your spouse. It is possible that you are both covered by the same insurer, on an insurance plan that is obtained through one of your employers. When you part ways, you will have to plan for how each of you will maintain health insurance coverage moving forward. In fact, you will have to plan for how you will each handle car insurance and any other types of insurance that you need. Also, it is important that you and your soon to be former spouse figure out how to file your taxes after divorce, so as to reduce both of your tax liability as much as possible.

Divorce involves many different issues because it affects every corner of a person’s life. Fortunately, thinking about what you want out of your divorce ahead of time can help you to ensure that all relevant topics are addressed during your divorce case. Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole can answer your questions about your Mississippi divorce. Call us today at (601) 573-7429 to arrange for a free consultation.