Archive for January, 2015

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about What Happens if You Decide You Don’t Want a Divorce

Friday, January 30th, 2015

While most divorce cases end in, well, divorce, some of them don’t. From time to time, one or both of the parties in a divorce case decide that they wish to remain married. When this happens in a situation where both parties agree that they want to stay married, the couple must take action to stop the divorce proceedings before the divorce becomes final. If one person wants to continue with the divorce and the other does not all may not be lost, depending upon the circumstances.

In Mississippi, stopping a divorce may be easier than in other places because of the way that Mississippi divorce law works. When a party files a Complaint for Divorce which alleges one of the twelve fault-based grounds for divorce, it is said to be a contested divorce. If you are the defendant in a contested divorce and you don’t want a divorce, you can defend yourself and your marriage against the allegations that were made against you in the Complaint. The spouse who filed the Complaint bears the burden of proving the truthfulness of the allegations contained in the Complaint by providing evidence of the alleged misconduct. When you are the defendant, your attorney can present evidence which tends to disprove the alleged misconduct, and they can also present affirmative defenses on your behalf if circumstances warrant.

One of the affirmative defenses which may be available to you depending upon your situation is the defense of condonation. If you have, for example, been accused of adultery but your spouse has forgiven you and you have not engaged in further adulterous acts, your spouse can be said to have condoned or forgiven the initial act of adultery and is thereby barred from using that as grounds for a divorce. Another affirmative defense which may apply to your situation is recrimination, or the concept of “also guilty”. To take the adultery example further, if the divorce complaint against you alleges adultery and you have evidence that your spouse has also committed adultery, you can say that there has been recrimination because they also engaged in wrongdoing.

If your divorce complaint is based upon irreconcilable differences and not on fault, you may also be able to stop the divorce proceedings if you change your mind. In Mississippi, the consent of both parties is required before an irreconcilable differences divorce can be granted by the court. If one party revokes their consent in writing by filing a written withdrawal of consent with the court during the divorce proceedings, the court will be unable to finalize the divorce.

If at any point during your divorce case you begin to feel unsure about whether to go through with the divorce, let your attorney know right away. Your attorney can speak with your spouse’s attorney, and if everyone agrees, things can be put on hold for a little while in order to give you and your spouse time to explore the idea of reconciliation. It is important that you both keep your attorneys apprised of any progress or lack thereof during this break in the action, as the court could dismiss your case for lack of progress.

Consulting with a Mississippi Divorce Attorney when you are contemplating divorcing your spouse can help you to decide whether and when to file for divorce. Call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to learn more.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Talks about Splitting Business Assets in a Mississippi Divorce

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Did you know that spouses do not have to be in business together for each of them to have an interest in a business that one of them owns for the purpose of property division in a divorce case?  Spouses who have not been involved in the operation of a business may be deemed to have contributed to its value in other ways, such as supporting and encouraging the spouse in their business endeavors and caring for the couple’s home and children throughout the course of the marriage.

One high profile divorce case has recently increased public awareness of this issue. Harold Hamm’s divorce case involves a business that is worth billions, and he and his ex-wife disagree on whether the way that the business assets were divided by the divorce court was fair. The ex-wife is appealing the divorce judgment, claiming that she was awarded but a fraction (over ninety million dollars) of the value of the marital estate that the couple created over the course of their twenty-plus year marriage.

In the Hamm case, the husband owned a business before he married his wife. During the marriage, the value of the business increased tremendously. When the couple decided to divorce, the question then became whether the business’s increase in value occurred because of normal market forces or because of Mr. Hamm’s efforts in running the business. If the increase in value could be traced to market forces, the increase would not be considered a marital asset and it would be given to the husband, because he had brought it into the marriage, instead of divided between the parties in a property settlement. If, instead, the rise in value had occurred in large part due to Mr. Hamm’s management of the business, then the increase in the value of the business would be considered a marital asset and would be divided as part of the property distribution.

In Mississippi, if a spouse owns a business interest, that value of that interest will need to be ascertained, and then it will need to be classified as marital property, separate property, or a mixed asset. Since valuation of business interests is not a simple matter, one or both parties may hire business valuation experts to provide professional valuations of the business interest. Whichever portion of a spouse’s business interest is deemed marital property goes into the marital estate, which gets divided equitably among the spouses.

If your Mississippi divorce involves an interest in a business, a skilled Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you to understand how that business interest fits into the bigger picture of your property distribution. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you pursue a property distribution that is aligned with your priorities through the negotiation process, and, if a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, serve as a strong advocate for you in the courtroom. Please call (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Says Clients Can Help Their Attorneys Build Strong Divorce Cases

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

As with any other type of legal matter, in a divorce case, the outcome is dependent, in large part, upon the actions of the client in addition to the skill of the attorney. Even the most skilled attorney cannot present a successful case if their client gives them a difficult set of facts to work with through their actions. If you are involved in a Mississippi divorce, there are things that you can do to help your divorce case proceed more smoothly every step of the way. The suggestions listed below will help your attorney help you obtain the best possible result in your case whether it be through settlement or litigation.

Perhaps the single most important thing that you can do which will help your attorney present the best possible case on your behalf is to tell them the truth. Your attorney needs to know everything in order to help you, so be sure to hide nothing from them. The reason that your attorney needs to know everything, no matter how embarrassing or troubling it is, is that surprises can derail a case very quickly. If you let your attorney know about information that is potentially damaging to your case, your attorney can work with those facts and prepare for how to handle a situation in which opposing counsel brings up the topic. If those same damaging facts come up in discussion with opposing counsel and your attorney hears them for the first time, they are unlikely to be able to handle the situation in a way that works to your advantage or lessens the impact of the damaging information.

Another thing that you can do to help your attorney help you obtain the results that you want from your divorce is to avoid doing anything that could be perceived as dishonest. Things like deleting information from your computer, hiding or destroying documents, or trying to conceal assets can cause a lot of trouble for you once you are found out. If you think that you will somehow avoid being found out, think again. Your spouse’s attorney, like every other attorney, is an experienced professional who knows how to find information that has somehow “disappeared”.

In addition to avoiding actions that are dishonest, avoid actions that are unkind or unreasonable. It can be hard to play nice during a divorce, but it greatly increases your chances of a satisfactory result in your case. If your spouse tries to take you down the low road by leaving nasty voice mail messages or sending angry emails, do not reply with angry words. Simply share the messages with your attorney, who can decide whether and how to use them. When you are negotiating a potential settlement, think about what things are most important to you and base your proposals upon those instead of trying to get as much of everything as you can. If your soon to be former spouse proposes an agreement or an idea that would work for you, don’t say “no” to it just because it wasn’t your idea. The best settlements often come in cases where both spouses are able to keep an open mind, and think about creative ways for each of them to get more of the things that they value the most.

Working with a Mississippi Divorce Attorney is the best way to ensure that your divorce case will result in an outcome that works for you. Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole would like to help you with your divorce. Please call (601) 573-7429 today, to set up a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Wants You to Avoid These Divorce Mistakes

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

When you are going through a divorce, there are bound to be times where you may be tempted to do things out of sheer anger, frustration, or some other strong emotion. While strong feelings are to be expected during the divorce process, they can get you into trouble if you respond to them by acting impulsively instead of by working through them in a productive way by talking to someone about them, going for a walk, or engaging in some other type of healthy coping behavior.

Some of the things that you may think of doing while you are feeling overcome with emotion could make your divorce case even more difficult than it already is. For example, giving away or selling items that you know your spouse is going to ask for as part of the property settlement could result in your being held financially liable to your soon to be former spouse for those items in addition to tarnishing your reputation with the judge. The same goes for running up debt on joint credit cards or incurring new debt under your spouse’s name. Your soon to be former spouse will likely be able to prove that they did not incur the debt, and you will be held responsible for paying it.

Stress and strong emotions can make alcohol or drugs seem like a convenient way to temporarily escape from the situation at hand. Not only could drinking alcohol to excess or using drugs hurt you physically, it could lead to a pattern of alcohol or drug use that is hard to stop. What’s more, it could get you into trouble with the law, causing more stress that you definitely don’t need. There are many ways to work through the emotions that are associated with divorce which can help you feel better both now and into the future. If one healthy coping strategy doesn’t work for you, try another, and perhaps another until you find what works best for you.

When strong feelings come up during meetings or court dates, it can be difficult to remain calm and collected. As difficult as it may be to do so sometimes, acting appropriately in these social situations is essential to the success of your divorce case. Verbal or physical outbursts could lead to your being removed from a meeting or a hearing, not to mention the damage that they do to your credibility.

If you become involved in a new relationship, it can be difficult to contain your excitement, but it is essential that you do so. Do not introduce your new significant other to your children without establishing ground rules with your soon to be former spouse for doing so. After all, you would not likely want your soon to be former spouse introducing your children to their new significant other without having some rules in place for when and how that would be appropriate. Also, do not bring your boyfriend or girlfriend to court, as this can make the atmosphere even more contentious in addition to burdening your new love interest with the uncensored details of your divorce.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you avoid these and other divorce mistakes. If you have questions about getting divorced in Mississippi, get the answers that you need today, by calling us at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Hidden Assets in Divorce Cases

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

Did you know that approximately thirty percent of people who share finances with a spouse or significant other have not been entirely truthful about their finances? Sometimes, financial deception within a household becomes such a big problem that it is discovered by the innocent spouse or partner. In fact, sometimes it is such a major issue that it leads to divorce. In some households, however, financial deception is so well concealed that it goes unnoticed for quite some time.

Most couples disagree about money from time to time, but financial deception is different, because unlike other forms of financial disagreements, such as deciding on a household budget or arguing over whether a planned purchase is a good idea or not, it goes on in secret until it is discovered. There are a variety of types of financial deception, from concealing debts and purchases to maintaining bank accounts that are kept secret from a spouse.

Sometimes, financial deception can become an issue in a divorce case even if it had not been an ongoing problem for the couple prior to the initiation of divorce proceedings. Both financial deception during a marriage and financial deception that begins during divorce proceedings can cause major trouble for the person who is doing the deceiving. Mississippi is an equitable distribution state, which means that the property distribution in every divorce case must be fair. In equitable distribution states, courts are permitted to order and parties are permitted to agree to distributions that are not exactly a fifty/fifty split of assets for a variety of reasons, including distributions that are weighted in favor of one spouse because of the wrongdoing of the other. Because of this, you can understand how financial deception during the marriage or during the divorce could result in a situation where the innocent spouse receives a greater share of marital assets in the property distribution than the spouse who has been deceptive.

During divorce proceedings, spouses are expected to exchange financial statements and make a full disclosure of their finances. Spouses who have been deceptive or who are being deceptive during divorce may try to hide information during the financial disclosure process. Fortunately, divorce attorneys can often track down hidden assets and bring the discrepancies to light. From checking tax returns against financial disclosure statements to asking for a wide variety of financial records during the discovery process and looking through them to see if there are unfamiliar account numbers, transfers of large sums of money, or even safe deposit boxes that the other spouse was unaware of, there are plenty of ways that your attorney can check for hidden assets.

Even if there were things that happened in your marriage that were not fair, your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to pursue a fair result in your divorce case, either by settlement or at trial.  Jackson, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole is here to help you with your Mississippi divorce. Please call us today, at (601) 573-7429, to arrange a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Weighs in on whether it Matters Who Files for Divorce First

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

One common question that people ask divorce attorneys is whether there is any advantage or disadvantage to being the spouse who initiates the divorce proceedings. It is not surprising that many people ask this question, as some people make bold statements to their spouses when they discuss the idea of getting a divorce. They may tell their spouse that since they will be the first to file, the spouse will be the defendant in the case. They may imply that filing first will place them in a position of power. They may make all kinds of other representations about what they think it means to be the first to file for divorce. Their purpose in making these statements may be to intimidate, to incite further conflict, or any number of other things. Fortunately, if you hear any statements like those mentioned above, you will know the truth about whether any benefits come from being the first to file for divorce, and you can choose your responses to those statements with confidence, instead of out of fear.

As for the matter of which of you is the plaintiff and which is the defendant, it is true that the person who files for divorce first will be known throughout the proceedings as the plaintiff and the other spouse will be known as the defendant. However, it is also true that the words “plaintiff” and “defendant” do not carry the same meanings that they do in criminal cases. In divorce cases, the terms “plaintiff” and “defendant” are only used for the purpose of identifying the parties and nothing more.

There is no one size fits all answer to the question of whether you should file for divorce before your spouse, because each divorce case is unique. There are situations in which it is a good idea to file first, and there are situations in which it is better to let the other party file first. For example, if you are in a situation in which you and your spouse cannot agree on a temporary plan for child support, parenting time, or other important issues, you may need the court to issue temporary orders. Temporary orders may be requested by the plaintiff in a Complaint for Divorce, so you would want to be the first to file.

While very few divorce cases actually proceed to trial, it is worth mentioning that being the first to file means that your evidence will be presented first. This can actually be a slight disadvantage, as the defendant and their attorney will see your case as it is presented. They may use the information that they see to shape their defense case and mount a counterattack. However, any advantage is likely to be slight, as the party with the more meritorious case is likely to prevail whether they present their evidence first or second.

As with many questions regarding divorce in Mississippi, the answer to the question of whether you should be the first to file for divorce is “it depends”. To learn more about whether filing first would be a good idea in your particular circumstances, call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Discusses Tax Considerations for Divorcing Couples

Monday, January 5th, 2015

If you are getting divorced, you are probably well aware that there will be changes in just about every area of your life. Some of the changes are not too hard to understand, but some can be a little tricky. Taxes are tricky whether you are getting divorced or not, so you may not be all that surprised when you find yourself looking at your tax forms and wondering how to proceed with them.

The issue of filing status is one of the easier divorce tax questions to deal with. If your Mississippi divorce did not become final before Dec. 31, 2014, you can file your taxes jointly with your soon-to-be-officially-ex-spouse this year and change your filing status next year.

Some tax matters are negotiable, which means that divorcing couples can include provisions for them in their parenting plans and property distributions. For example, a couple with two children may agree that each year, each parent will claim one of the children as a dependent on their tax return. Other couples may decide that each spouse gets to claim all of the children on their tax return in alternating years, or they may make some other arrangement that better meets their needs.

Sometimes, divorced parties must make payments to their former spouses for alimony or child support. These two types of payment are treated differently at tax time, so it is important that you understand the difference between how they are treated. For example, a spouse who receives alimony payments will pay taxes on the amount that they receive, since it is a form of income. Former spouses who pay alimony can deduct the amount that they pay from their taxable income. Child support is not considered income for tax purposes, and people who pay child support do not, per se, get a tax break for doing so.

When you divide marital assets in a divorce, it is important to do so properly. For example, if one of the assets to be divided is a 401(k), you can avoid having to pay early withdrawal penalties and income tax on the amount that is to be transferred to your former spouse if the transfer is made with a QDRO, or Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

Other types of transfers that you may make during or after your divorce can trigger tax consequences for either or both spouses. Things like mortgage interest, capital gains on the sale of the marital home, and taxes on transfers of other assets can catch some people by surprise. The best thing that divorced or divorcing parties can do in order to ensure that they make tax-savvy decisions during their Mississippi divorce is to consult with an accountant both during and after the divorce.

A skilled divorce attorney can help you with divorce-related tax questions and all of the other aspects of your Mississippi divorce.  Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many Mississippi residents achieve positive results in their divorce cases, and he can help you, too. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.

 

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Provides a Global Perspective on Divorce

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

It’s no secret that more than half of American marriages end in divorce. Believe it or not, though, there are places where the divorce rate is even higher than that. In fact, the United States ranks tenth on a list of the nations with the highest divorce rates, meaning that there are nine other nations where the divorce rate is even higher than it is here.

While the reasons for divorce are highly personal, there are some cultural trends which are affecting the divorce rates in various parts of the world. Information about divorce on a global scale can help us understand more about how various cultures are approaching marriage and divorce.

France is also one of the ten countries with the world’s highest divorce rates. In France, couples who live in cities are much more likely to divorce than those who live in more rural areas. In fact, while many people think of Paris as the city of love, it is actually the city with the highest divorce rate in France.

Cubans definitely have something unique going on as far as marriage is concerned. Did you know that Cubans can apply to the government for assistance with the costs of their wedding and honeymoon? Not surprisingly, many people do just that, and many of those marriages end in divorce. There is another trend in Cuba, though, which is similar to something that is also occurring more and more frequently in America. Couples are becoming less interested in marriage, instead choosing to commit to a long term relationship without any ceremony or legal agreement. Couples in Estonia, another nation with a high divorce rate (around sixty percent), are also becoming increasingly interested in long term, committed relationships that are not marriages.

The changing role of religion has had a major impact on divorce rates in some places. In Spain, for example, church attendance rates have been declining steadily and Catholicism has become more of a historical and cultural identity than a day to day religious practice. Divorce rates, on the other hand, have steadily increased since 2007, when the requirements for getting a divorce became much easier to meet. The declining role of religion has also been cited as one of the reasons that Belgium has such a high divorce rate, with approximately seventy percent of marriages ending in divorce.

The outcomes of divorces can vary greatly depending upon which country the divorce takes place in. While American parents now stand on equal footing in divorce proceedings, fathers are at a disadvantage in the Czech Republic, where over ninety percent of women are granted full custody of their children when they divorce.

As divorce has become more commonplace in America and all over the world, people who are choosing to divorce are increasingly able to find the legal help that they need as they navigate this important major life decision. If you plan to file for divorce in Mississippi, call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free, initial consultation.