Archive for February, 2015

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Discusses Possible Developments in Mississippi Divorce Law

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

In Mississippi, there may soon be another item added to the list of statutorily recognized grounds for divorce. House Bill 185 is awaiting Senate action, and, if passed, would add “excessive verbal, mental, psychological or emotional abuse” to the list of grounds upon which a Mississippi divorce may be granted.

A spouse who is being abused in any way can presently file for a divorce based on habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, which is already recognized as a ground for divorce. However, parties who seek a divorce because of habitual cruel and inhuman treatment must prove either that the defendant’s conduct was physical or that it had an adverse physical effect on the victim, and also that the defendant’s conduct took place over a period of time.

The evidentiary requirements of a habitual cruel and inhuman treatment divorce are such that they may preclude some spouses who are being abused to get a divorce. Abuse is often difficult to prove, because it often occurs behind closed doors. There may be no witnesses and no physical evidence. The abuse may be subtle, so subtle that the victim does not realize what is happening. Abuse victims are often unwilling to talk about what happened, out of embarrassment or because they feel as though they brought it upon themselves. Also, abusers often isolate themselves and their victims, and they may limit a victim’s access to resources like transportation, phones, and computers, so that it is difficult if not impossible for the victim to ask for help.

If House Bill 185 is passed, it would simply add the words “excessive verbal, mental, psychological, or emotional abuse” to the “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” grounds for divorce. While House Bill 185 may appear to make it easier to get a Mississippi divorce, there is some question as to whether it will actually loosen the divorce requirements at all. It would not appear as though the evidentiary requirements would change if the bill is passed, so many of the abuse victims that find themselves stuck in abusive marriages may not be able to prove what they need to prove in order to get a divorce. Likewise, in cases where the abuse is not physical and does not produce physical effects, an abuse victim may be unable to fulfill the requirements for getting a fault-based divorce. It will be interesting to see what action the Senate takes on the bill, and what effect it will have if it passes.

If abuse is a factor in your Mississippi divorce, you need help from someone that you can trust. A skilled Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you to determine the best way to file for divorce. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you understand the divorce process, and he can help you work through it every step of the way. Please call our office at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Shares Tips for Family Life after Divorce

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Parents who divorce may know in their hearts that parting ways with their spouse is essential to their well-being, but, unfortunately that does not always prevent them from worrying about the potential effects of their divorce on their children. Parenting is a challenging task whether you are married or divorced, and the good news is that a parent who seeks to be the best parent that they can be can do so regardless of whether they are married or divorced. Your family life may look quite a bit different after your divorce, but it still presents the same challenges and growth opportunities that it did while you were married, plus a few more.

It can be challenging to interact with your former spouse during and after a divorce, but this challenge provides an opportunity to create a sense of stability and calm for your kids. When you are polite towards your former spouse during your interactions with them, you show your kids that you value their relationship with their other parent. This goes a long way towards helping children feel secure in knowing that they will be able to maintain a close and loving relationship with both of their parents.

Getting a divorce involves creating a parenting schedule, and creating a parenting schedule can provide a structure within which you can maintain consistent routines that your children are used to, such as routines for getting ready for school and going to bed. Keeping well established routines consistent between your home and your soon to be former spouse’s home can help children transition more easily from one house to the other.

Consistent rules between households provide children with a sense of stability and security much in the same way that consistent routines do. While you and your former spouse are not likely to agree to have the exact same rules in each of your homes, the more similar your rules are the better. Children like to know what to expect, and if they can expect to follow the same rules with one parent as they do with the other, they will feel more at ease. As an added benefit, children are more likely to comply with household rules at both homes when they are similar. When parents have different sets of rules in their homes, children may spend time trying to convince one parent or the other to change the rules that they don’t like so that they are more like the rules at their other parent’s home, creating conflict for both the parents and the children.

Navigating family life after divorce is not always easy, but it does provide parents with opportunities to strengthen their connections with their children. A knowledgeable Mississippi Divorce Attorney can take care of the legal aspects of your divorce so that you can focus on the important tasks of caring for yourself and your family. To learn more, call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429, to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Talks about Divorce Preparedness

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

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 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 Service Members

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

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 servicemembers 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 Same-Sex Divorce

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

As you know, Mississippi does not allow same-sex marriages. A case that is currently before the Mississippi Supreme Court involves a same-sex couple, but it is not a same-sex marriage case. The women are already married, and they are seeking a divorce.

On one side of the matter are lawyers arguing in favor of the court granting the divorce, stating that it is possible for the court to do so without overturning the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages. On the other side of the matter, the attorney general’s office is arguing that the court cannot grant a divorce to the women because their California marriage is void in Mississippi. The court could make a decision based upon the information that is being presented to it, but it could also wait for the United States Supreme Court to make a decision on a case that is on its docket, a case which could result in the legalization of same-sex marriages nationwide.

The case that is currently before the Mississippi Supreme Court is interesting not only because it involves same-sex divorce in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, but also because of the reasoning that is occurring on both sides of the issue. For example, Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson seemed to express the notion that granting a divorce to a same-sex couple would be consistent with Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriages because the divorce would bring a same-sex marriage to an end. The attorney general’s office disagrees, though, stating the state must first recognize the marriage before it can grant a divorce, and that is currently illegal. Interestingly enough, Associate Justice Randy Pierce pointed out that Mississippi does grant divorces to other types of couples who aren’t allowed to marry in Mississippi but who have married in some other state, such as first cousins.

Until the Mississippi Supreme Court decides what position it will take on the issue of same-sex divorce, the women whose case is before the court remain married. This is unfortunate, because when people want to be divorced, they want to be able to live a separate life that does not involve their spouse. When couples must remain married because the state will not grant them a divorce, they can go their separate ways in some regards, but not in others. For example, they must continue to file taxes and do other things that they have been doing as a married couple together. This forced togetherness, even if it involves only a handful of issues, may serve to set up situations where people are unable to move forward in their separate lives.

If you are thinking of filing for divorce in Mississippi, it is important that you do so with the help of an experienced and dedicated Mississippi Family Law Attorney. Consulting with a Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to understand the divorce process and think through all of the short and long term consequences for you and your family of structuring your divorce in any particular way. To learn more, please call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney Offers Words of Caution Regarding Divorce

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

While the decision to divorce is a very emotional one, it is also important that anyone who is thinking of getting a divorce consider the full range of financial implications that are likely to arise from your divorce. This is not to say that you should let financial matters keep you from getting divorced, only that you should make yourself aware of all of the costs that are associated with divorce so that you can plan for them.

If you do not have much money, you may be tempted to try resolving your divorce without the assistance of an attorney. This can be time consuming and frustrating, and it may end up costing you more in the long run. Attorneys are often able to help parties reach settlements in divorce cases instead of proceeding to trial. Settling a divorce is much less expensive than litigating it, even after accounting for attorneys’ fees. The money that you spend on having a lawyer work with your soon to be former spouse’s lawyer to reach a settlement agreement can be considered an investment in keeping the total cost of your divorce as low as possible.

When you consult with an attorney, make sure that they can provide you with estimates of what each phase of your divorce is likely to cost you, including the cost of a trial. The estimates can vary greatly, depending upon your situation. For example, couples with more wealth and assets will pay more for their divorces because they are likely to require the assistance of accountants and/or appraisers to help them see what property is available to be divided amongst themselves. It is good to have the cost estimate numbers in front of you to look at, especially when you are thinking about whether to accept or decline a settlement offer, because they can help you to regain your perspective and make a decision based upon finances, not emotion.

If you might be taking property or assets in a divorce settlement that you are unfamiliar with, such a house or other real estate or an investment account, it is a good idea to work with a financial planner in deciding whether or not to accept a settlement agreement. While hiring a financial planner costs money, it is money that you are spending to get an understanding of how a proposed settlement offer would work for you financially, both now and into the future.

Divorce can place you in a precarious financial position if you go into it without a clear understanding of how much the process is likely to cost. An experienced divorce attorney can help you to understand and prepare for the costs associated with your Mississippi divorce. Jackson area, Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole has helped many Mississippi residents achieve positive results in their Mississippi 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 Discusses the Cultural Aspect of Divorce

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

When a couple wishes to divorce, the laws of the state where they live play a role in how the divorce will proceed. The religion and culture of the parties also plays a large role in divorce, because different religious groups and different cultures approach divorce in different ways. Sometimes, religious or cultural practices and procedures regarding divorce conflict with state and federal laws.

An example of this can be found in an interesting situation which has developed in New Jersey. An Orthodox Rabbi and three co-defendants are facing charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. The crimes are alleged to have occurred when the defendants worked together to “convince” uncooperative Jewish husbands to divorce their wives.

The question that is raised by this situation is whether the defendants were exerting an improper influence over the men or simply advocating for the rights of the women who were, according to Jewish law, unable to divorce their husbands unless their husbands gave them a document called a “get”. Jewish law appears to allow people within the Jewish community to exert influence on a man in order to pressure him to give his wife a get, however, Jewish law also specifies that such attempts must be nonviolent and they must not violate state or federal laws. It is not difficult to imagine that at some point, a person who is attempting to influence a reluctant to divorce husband would behave in such a way that their behavior crosses the line between attempting to influence him and becoming violent and committing a crime.

In the situation in New Jersey, the Prosecutors allege that the Orthodox Rabbi and his co-defendants essentially tortured the men into granting their wives divorces. More specifically, it is alleged that the defendants used electric cattle prods, handcuffs, and staged kidnappings in their efforts to force men to agree to their divorces. The defendants are also alleged to have been paid for their efforts in helping wives obtain gets from their reluctant husbands.

Other cultures also have ways of dealing with divorce which may or may not work well with American divorce laws. Muslims all over the world use the system of Sharia law to resolve disputes. A non-profit legal services organization called the Islamic Tribunal has set up operations in Texas, and it offers dispute resolution services in the context of Islamic principles. The Tribunal enables Islamic couples to work through the issues associated with their divorce in a manner that is consistent with their religious beliefs, but it does not grant divorces because it does not have jurisdiction to do so. Couples must file for divorce according to the laws of Texas and follow the state’s divorce process in order to obtain a legally recognized divorce.

Culture and religion play a major role in the divorces of some couples. Fortunately, couples can choose to incorporate their beliefs and values into their divorces as part of their property settlements and custody agreements. For more information about how to integrate your cultural or religious principles into your Mississippi divorce, call Mississippi Divorce Attorney Matthew S. Poole today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your free, initial consultation.

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

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

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 Mississippi Divorce Attorney greatly reduces the likelihood of that happening. Divorce attorneys know 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 it is that you want to come away from the divorce with. 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.