Posts Tagged ‘divorce attorney in Jackson MS’

Separate Maintenance/Alimony Considered by Court of Appeals

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Recently the Rankin County Chancery Court was appealed on a claim by a wife for separate maintenance which is also considered separate alimony.  The claims of the wife include the issue of her being entitled to support outside of child support, which would be considered alimony or temporary separate maintenance.  The Rankin County Chancery Court heard a case in Spotswood v. Spotswood wherein the court was asked to consider a claim that the husband was required to reimburse the wife for insurance premiums that she paid through her employment and that she would also request payments for the mortgage of the marital home that the husband and wife owned jointly.  The Rankin County Chancery Court determined that the husband reimburse the wife for those insurance premiums as well as pay half of mortgage payments for the marital home, although the husband had departed the marital home.  The husband argued that the chancery court made an error in ordering him to make payments on the marital home as well as the insurance payments and essentially granted the wife’s request for separate maintenance or alimony even though the court specifically found that the wife was not entitled to the payment for separate maintenance or alimony.  The Court of Appeals determined, after reviewing the entire record, that if the lower court had found that the award of separate maintenance or alimony is not warranted then the court cannot order one spouse, in this case the husband, to undertake obligations for the benefit of the other spouse, in this case the wife.  Essentially the Court of Appeals was presented with a question that has been litigated in Chancery Courts around the state of Mississippi for decades.  The Court of Appeals resolved a solitary issue here and found that the wife was not entitled to separate alimony or maintenance because the court of Rankin County determined that she was not entitled to the same.  The court, in essence, determined that the husband was not required to make the payment for the mortgage of the home or insurance, as the Rankin County Court had previously adjudicated.  Therefore the Court of Appeals reversed and rendered the decision back to Rankin County Chancery Court in order to have them make a determination of the issues aside from the decision that was made; that the husband could not be required to make payments outside of the scope of alimony even if they were in the guise of insurance or mortgage payments after the determination had already been made that separate alimony or maintenance during the parties’ separation was denied.


If you need assistance with a separate maintenance or alimony issue, contact The Law Office of Matthew Poole, and we are best able to provide you with the assistance and advice in order to bring your case to a fair conclusion.

Matthew Poole (601) 573-7429.

Alternating Physical Custody of a Young Child

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

It has become common in the state of Mississippi, as well as other jurisdictions, that parties to a divorce as well as custody actions have requested that their minor child be as close to equally split in physical custody as the court will permit. On the day of the trial in a recent case that went to the court of appeals, the husband and wife agreed to consent to trial of the divorce on solely irreconcilable differences and permit the chancellor to resolve the issues of physical and legal custody of the minor child of the marriage. At the time of this marital dissolution the parties were jointly parenting a five-year-old little girl. After hearing evidence based upon the testimony of the parties excluding the fault-based grounds that were dropped ,the parties were both awarded approximately an equal split on physical custody until the daughter was able to attend kindergarten. The wife argued that the chancellor mistakenly failed to decide who would have custody of the daughter when she started kindergarten. The wife did not argue that the final order of the court was not final and appealable, but the underlying issue to be resolved was the parallel to this issue. In his ruling, the chancellor failed to specify the exact month and year in the final judgment of the child’s reversion to standard physical custody on the part of the mother. The wife also argued to the court of appeals that the chancellor failed to consider if the joint custody arrangement was practical due to the distance the daughter had to travel. At this point, the father lived in San Antonio, Texas. There was a significant argument as to the impracticality of traveling to San Antonio, Texas from Brandon, Mississippi, even prior to the child starting kindergarten at 5 years old. In this case, the chancellor found that shared custody was in the best interest of the child, despite the fact that she would have to travel significantly to spend time with either parent. Given the distance between San Antonio, Texas and Brandon, Mississippi, the court of appeals determined that the custody arrangement was not in the best interest of the minor child. Thus, the case was reversed and remanded with further instructions to the court to make adequate consideration of the travel time in order to effectuate this difficult provision in terms of travel for alternating custody. The important point to remember is that a significant amount of precedent discourages the use of alternating custody arrangements even prior to a child attending school.

If you need help with a complicated or complex custody arrangement or need advice on how to best proceed in order to parent your child or children, call the Law Office of Matthew Poole, and we will be happy to help in any way that we can within the bounds of existing legal precedent.

Matthew Poole (601) 573-7429.

“Can Parental Alienation of Children result in Contempt of Court?” – A Summary Prepared by Matthew Poole, Jackson, Mississippi Child Custody Attorney

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Although some states recognize parental alienation as a separate cause of action without the need for showing direct contempt of a court order, Mississippi Law has yet to directly correlate parental alienation with the laws that require compliance to the strict terms of the judgment of the court. It is well accepted that contempt of a Mississippi court order regarding visitation, custody, or support is based upon a standard that has been clear precedent for decades. In general, contempt of a court order can be shown by demonstrating; 1. The presence of a lawful valid court order, 2. A violation of that court order, 3. That the violation was willful or “contumacious”. Violations of court orders are common place throughout every jurisdiction, however, without a showing of contumacy there can be no holding by any Mississippi Chancery jurisdiction that contempt is present. Contempt has traditionally been held as a disregard of or disobedience to the rules or orders of a judicial body by disorderly behavior so as to disturb the proceedings or impair the respect to that judicial body. The normal sanction for contempt is either monetary sanction or incarceration until the contemnor has complied with the court order and thus purged themselves of contempt.

It is common that court orders regarding child custody, whether by agreement or after a trial, include language that prohibits disparagement to the children of either parent. It is also well held law that modification of custody may be based upon substantial interference with visitation or extreme interference with either party’s parental relationships with their children. Interestingly, a violation of a non-disparagement clause in a court order has also been held also to warrant modification of custody, visitation, or any of the terms of visitation. In order to obtain a modification of physical custody, there must be a showing that the disparagement of one parent to the child has an adverse impact on the child. There have been several cases in MS where children have exhibited of high levels of anxiety and depression that has been linked to the disparagement and conflict between the parents.

It is highly recommended that in any divorce or child custody proceeding that a non-disparagement clause be explicit since there is no direct recognition of alienation syndrome in MS. Without specific language in the court order prohibiting such conduct it is likely that disparagement will not be held to be contumacious and will solely be potential ground for modification of custody or visitation. Keep in mind that a showing of contempt requires far less proof than seeking modification of any prior court order.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with a MS family law attorney with extensive experience in these matters, call Matthew Poole at 601.573.7429. We practice primarily in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison County, Mississippi but also cover any county in Mississippi.

Although some states recognize parental alienation as a separate cause of action without the need for showing direct contempt of a court order, Mississippi Law has yet to directly correlate parental alienation with the laws that require compliance to the strict terms of the judgment of the court. It is well accepted that contempt of a Mississippi court order regarding visitation, custody, or support is based upon a standard that has been clear precedent for decades. In general, contempt of a court order can be shown by demonstrating; 1. The presence of a lawful valid court order, 2. A violation of that court order, 3. That the violation was willful or “contumacious”. Violations of court orders are common place throughout every jurisdiction, however, without a showing of contumacy there can be no holding by any Mississippi Chancery jurisdiction that contempt is present. Contempt has traditionally been held as a disregard of or disobedience to the rules or orders of a judicial body by disorderly behavior so as to disturb the proceedings or impair the respect to that judicial body. The normal sanction for contempt is either monetary sanction or incarceration until the contemnor has complied with the court order and thus purged themselves of contempt.

It is common that court orders regarding child custody, whether by agreement or after a trial, include language that prohibits disparagement to the children of either parent. It is also well held law that modification of custody may be based upon substantial interference with visitation or extreme interference with either party’s parental relationships with their children. Interestingly, a violation of a non-disparagement clause in a court order has also been held also to warrant modification of custody, visitation, or any of the terms of visitation. In order to obtain a modification of physical custody, there must be a showing that the disparagement of one parent to the child has an adverse impact on the child. There have been several cases in MS where children have exhibited of high levels of anxiety and depression that has been linked to the disparagement and conflict between the parents.

It is highly recommended that in any divorce or child custody proceeding that a non-disparagement clause be explicit since there is no direct recognition of alienation syndrome in MS. Without specific language in the court order prohibiting such conduct it is likely that disparagement will not be held to be contumacious and will solely be potential ground for modification of custody or visitation. Keep in mind that a showing of contempt requires far less proof than seeking modification of any prior court order.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with a MS family law attorney with extensive experience in these matters, call Matthew Poole at 601.573.7429. We practice primarily in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison County, Mississippi but also cover any county in Mississippi.

Mississippi Divorce Attorney States The Top 10 Reasons Marriages End in Divorce

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Divorce has become sadly commonplace today.  In America, there is a divorce every 13 seconds.  This amounts to over 6,500 divorces per day and 46,000 a week.  Over 50% of all first marriages end in divorce within eight years.  Of second marriages, the divorce rate climbs to a staggering 65%.  Those between the ages of 25 and 39 are most likely to obtain a divorce, and the average age of couples going through their first divorce is 30 years old.

As these statistics demonstrate, nearly everyone has been affected by divorce, whether it be their own or that of a family member, or friend.  To this end, we have prepared the following list of the top 10 reasons marriages end in divorce to help inform you of the causes of divorce.

  1. Finances—money is most often cited as the cause of divorce in America.  It is not generally money itself that leads to divorce; rather it is a lack of compatibility in the financial arena.  Disagreements over monthly spending, a lack of adequate funds, and differences of opinion on investments are all common topics that lead to dissention in a marriage, and possibly divorce.
  2. Lack of communication—a successful relationship requires the sharing of feelings, thoughts, and opinions.  It also requires active listening.  Couples who end up divorced often lack essential communication skills.  Without the ability to communicate effectively, spouses cannot solve marital problems.  As problems continue to fester, divorce may be the avenue turned to.
  3. Unmet expectations—both spouses enter the marriage with a set of expectations.  When expectations are unmet, strain often occurs in the relationship.  Discussions prior to marriage concerning each of your expectations and desires entering into the relationship can help avoid this pitfall.
  4. Not enough commitment to the relationship—couples often cite a lack of commitment as a cause for divorce.  Marriages take nurturing and work, which spouses tend to forget as time passes. 
  5. Lack of time together—a cornerstone of a strong relationship is allowing yourself time to connect with one another.  Without that bonding time, a marriage will wither.  Couples soon find themselves living disconnected lives.  Absent talking, laughing, and creating memories together, a marriage ceases to be a union.
  6. Child-rearing issues—adding children to a marriage can put stress and strain on the relationship. Arguments over parenting decisions and responsibilities can lead to major marital rifts.
  7. Religious or cultural strains—religious beliefs or cultural values can lead to conflict, particularly where they affect a spouse’s way of life or parenting choices. 
  8. Infidelity—cheating, or the violation of mutually agreed upon boundaries that the couple develops, is a top cause of divorce.  Infidelity can be very painful for those who experience it and often signifies the end of the marriage.
  9. Boredom—after many years together, couples can become bored with each other or their life style.  Divorcing spouses often report that they felt “stuck in a rut.”  To avoid this breakdown in the relationship, new activities and experiences can keep a marriage fresh.
  10. Physical, psychological, or emotional abuse—while physical abuse is the most commonly recognized form of abuse, abuse can come in many varieties.  It can consist of controlling behavior, such as monitoring phone calls or restricting a spouse’s activities.  It can also include name calling, ignoring, or criticizing.  Anyone who suspects they are in an abusive relationship should seek professional help immediately. 

At The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole, we have firsthand knowledge of the most common causes of divorce.  No matter what the reason for your divorce, we can help.  Matthew S. Poole is a Jackson area divorce attorney of distinction.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Divorces in Mississippi

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Given the shaky economy and seemingly ever rising expense of obtaining a divorce, more and more individuals are electing to divorce without the assistance of an attorney.  These do-it-yourselfers feel that by divorcing on their own, they will save substantial money in the process.  What they fail to recognize, however, is the potential long-term financial costs of foregoing an attorney, and the probable negative impact the absence of a lawyer can have on the entire divorce process.

The following list is designed to caution you before electing to proceed with a divorce pro se, or without an attorney:

  1. Divorces are never as “simple” as they appear to be: you may feel that because you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce, your divorce will be quick, simple, and painless.  After all, forms exist online that purport to provide you with all you need to obtain a divorce.  However, as any experienced divorce attorney will tell you, no divorce is as simple as it appears.  The agreement you and your spouse thought you reached often falls apart and you end up in tense negotiations with no end in sight.  You become overwhelmed with the myriad of court forms required and strict time deadlines for each.  You consent to something only to realize later it had negative tax implications you were unaware of.  This list goes on and on.  Divorce is nearly always a complicated process and even the “simplest” of divorces can be quite confusing and time consuming.  A knowledgeable divorce attorney can guide negotiations and handle all the filing of the many required forms, while ensuring deadlines are met and proper disclosures made.  A divorce attorney takes out the guess work and the stress for the layperson unfamiliar with intricate divorce law.
  2. You can cost yourself in the long-run: while foregoing a divorce attorney might appear to be an effective cost-saving method, this decision can cost you far more in the long-run then the initial savings.  Without the assistance of a divorce attorney, you may end up settling for far less than you deserve, waiving your right to alimony or property to which you are entitled.  Missing crucial deadlines or failing to provide requisite information can lengthen the divorce process, costing you more.  A skilled divorce attorney knows just what assets you may be entitled to and what debts you must shoulder.  Your divorce attorney will negotiate or, if necessary, argue in court on your behalf to ensure you reserve the monies and property to which you are entitled.  A layperson without knowledge of intricate alimony, child support, and property division laws is unlikely to be in the position to obtain the best outcome possible.
  3. Mistakes are often irreversible: often, in the legal world, mistakes cannot be undone.  If you miss a crucial deadline, your rights maybe waived.  If you agree to a settlement negotiation which the court accepts, you will not be able to later undo the agreement if you come to realize a mistake was made.  Further, once the court rules on an issue, your options to amend it are few and will most likely require the aid of an attorney.  These early stages in a divorce are crucial and there is no room for mistakes.  This makes it imperative to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who will ensure you do not inadvertently forfeit crucial rights.

Matthew S. Poole understands the expense involved in a divorce and recognizes the need to keep down costs.  He is a compassionate, experienced Mississippi divorce attorney that will strive to achieve your divorce with as little cost to you as possible.  Matthew S. Poole knows the intricacies of divorce law and will ensure your best interests are advocated for.

Call The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.

High Profile Divorces May Impact Mississippi Divorce Law

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Recently, it was announced that Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman who was recently acquitted of murder in the Trayvon Martin case, has filed for divorce.  The announcement came days after a domestic dispute between Shellie and George in which police and reporters arrived in droves to their Lake Mary home.  Shellie had called 911 stating that her husband had a gun and was behaving in a threatening manner.  Shellie later denied actually seeing the gun, but knew he had one because George always carries one on his person.  Police did not recover a gun, but found the iPad on which Shellie said she recorded the incident smashed to pieces.

Details are still unfolding in the Zimmerman dispute and the divorce is in its infancy stages, but the nation no doubt will anxiously following the story.  The Zimmerman divorce is just the most recent in a string of high profile divorces that have captured the attention of the nation.  The Murdoch divorce is another divorce making headline news.  Media mogul Rupurt Murdoch announced this past summer that he was divorcing his wife of 14 years, Wendi Deng.  In his divorce petition, Murdoch alleged the marriage had broken down irretrievably.  It appeared the marriage would proceed quickly, until Deng hired a new attorney who recently represented Christina Lurie, former wife Philadelphia Eagle’s owner, Jeffrey Laurie.  Ms. Laurie reportedly  obtained a favorable divorce settlement and remained part owner of the team.  News associations are conjecturing that Deng’s choice of new attorney means she is gearing up for a fight. While much of Murdoch’s fortunes are protected by pre-nuptial agreements, there are still several areas of the divorce for Deng to contest, such as custody of the couple’s two children, the couple’s Fifth Avenue penthouse, and ownership of the yacht the couple shared.

These high profile divorces highlight the special considerations that those who are in public eye must take when seeking a divorce.  If you are a celebrity, sport’s player, politician, or even local celebrity, the following are a list of things to consider when seeking your high profile divorce:

  1. Retain an experienced divorce attorney—this is by far the most important step in your divorce.  An experienced divorce attorney is essential for any spouse seeking a divorce, but it is especially important for those that may have a high profile divorce as often more assets are involved and additional issues such as dealing with the press will come into play.  A skilled divorce attorney will be able to negotiate for higher net worth settlements and handle the obtrusive press.
  2. Seek a mediation expert—private divorce mediation will keep all the details of your divorce away from prying eyes.  Divorce meditation is kept confidential and can be a means of avoiding the public courtroom.  It can also be your best bet for reaching a quick, favorable divorce settlement.
  3. Hire an asset protection expert—Mississippi is an equitable distribution state.  As a general rule, all property jointly owned will be subject to division during a divorce.  There is a caveat that each spouse may maintain his or her property for which he or she alone holds the title.  For high profile or high net worth couples, you need an attorney who has experience and the ability to analyze sizeable asset portfolios including real estate, stocks, business ownerships, and royalties.

While the fame and notoriety surrounding the Zimmermans and Rupurt Murdoch will likely continue to captivate the nation, Matthew S. Poole remains intrigued by even run of mill divorces.  Matthew is an experienced divorce attorney in Jackson MS who treats every client as if their divorce is one worthy of headline news.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 to begin your divorce the right way.

Does Marital Misconduct Really Alter the Outcome of a Divorce in Mississippi?

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Despite the fact that all states have now implemented the “no-fault” divorce, this does not mean that spouses engaging in marital misconduct in Mississippi won’t have to answer for that misbehavior in some way. Particularly regarding division of property, awards of spousal support or awards of attorney’s fees, the “victim” spouse may have a real advantage over the spouse accused of misconduct. By its very definition, “marital misconduct” must cover behaviors which took place before the marriage ended and the misconduct must have resulted in one spouse suffering considerable financial, emotional or physical burden.

Defining Marital Misconduct

Most of us limit our thinking of marital misconduct to adultery however the state of Mississippi offers twelve grounds for seeking a fault-based divorce, some of which can absolutely affect the outcome of the divorce.

These grounds include:

  • Natural impotency—while seldom used as a ground for divorce, past cases suggest the impotency must be an inability to engage in sex which is not curable and does not include the inability to procreate.
  • Spouse incarcerated—a divorce may be granted to anyone whose spouse is currently incarcerated or has been sentenced to a jail or prison term.
  • Even a single act of adultery is grounds for a fault-based divorce in Mississippi however that adultery must be able to be clearly established in court. The admission by the spouse, the testimony of the lover, audio or video recordings, testimony of a private investigator, friend or family or photos can be used to establish adultery. Circumstantial evidence such as giving or receiving gifts from a suspected lover, frequent phone calls, text messages, e-mails or any other secretive behavior may also suffice in establishing the presence of adultery.
  • Desertion—when the spouse has disappeared for at least a year with no contact.
  • Habitual drug use which renders the spouse addicted to the drug and unable to control his or her use.
  • Habitual drunkenness which has an adverse effect on the marriage.
  • Habitual cruel and inhumane treatment—one of the most commonly alleged, yet perhaps the toughest to prove.
  • Insanity at the time of marriage without the other spouse’s knowledge.
  • Bigamy
  • Pregnancy of the wife at the time of the marriage—unless the husband was aware of the pregnancy. If the husband is aware of the pregnancy then later the baby is not his biological child, he may not claim pregnancy of the wife at the time of marriage as fault-based grounds for divorce.
  • Kinship within the prohibited degree—a relationship designated by Mississippi law as incestuous is grounds for divorce.
  • Incurable insanity—once a spouse has been committed in a mental institution for a period of three or more years, the other spouse may obtain a divorce based on the incurable insanity grounds.

Compensation Rather than Punishment

While not specifically meant to punish the “offender” in the marriage, financial compensation is intended to compensate the “victim.” Some of the grounds for divorce might have little effect on the outcome of the divorce, but others could have significant effect. Economic fault, while not offered as Mississippi grounds for divorce, may be considered in the final distribution of assets. Economic fault can include dissipation of assets, hiding assets, diverting marital assets to pay for an addition or extramarital relationship, excessive spending, destruction of property, the fraudulent conveyance of property or any other type of conduct which prevents the courts from determining an equitable division of property.

This means that while adultery in and of itself will not affect the asset distribution, if the spouse committing the adultery spent an undue amount of marital assets on the affair, then the other spouse may be entitled to compensation. Similarly, the spouse who has a drinking, drug or gambling problem may not automatically entitle the other spouse to a bigger piece of the marital pie. If those behaviors resulted in excessive or abnormal spending, hiding assets, dissipating assets or diverting marital income to pay for the habits, then compensation for the victim-spouse is likely. Courts are likely to give more weight to certain types of misconduct over others; since economic fault, adultery and addiction can all have significant impact on the couple’s marital assets, these areas of misconduct may actually be given more weight than cruelty or domestic violence, simply because they exerted a more direct influence on assets.

Call The Law Offices of Matthew S. Poole for the Help You Need

Those who believe marital misconduct occurred during their marriage and that the marital misconduct directly impacted marital assets should discuss those issues thoroughly with a qualified divorce attorney.  Matthew S. Poole has years of experience helping those in the middle of a difficult divorce. Matthew Poole will listen to your concerns and offer solid advice on whether alleging marital misconduct in your divorce is to your benefit. All the evidence will be assessed and, after hearing your feelings about the misconduct, the best options will be offered. We understand how difficult divorce is and will do everything in our power to make the process less stressful. Call (601) 573-7429 to set up an appointment to discuss your individual circumstances.