Posts Tagged ‘divorce lawyer in Mississippi’

Five Divorce Misconceptions

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

In our office, we see a variety of mistakes made by clients, many of which have an impact on the outcome of their divorce in terms of the division of assets, awards of alimony and/or attorney’s fees, and even in the determination of custody of the minor children. Keep in mind that much of the financial responsibility is the responsibility of the non-custodial parent. Do not ruin your own finances. Do not allow the potential future cost of your children’s college education to be forgotten in your divorce – your spouse owes his or her fair share. After all, the minor children did not ask to be brought into this world; both of you created them, and BOTH of you are responsible for giving them a fair shot in life.

1. When things get rough at home I should move somewhere else. False (with some caveats). The most common mistake we see is the belief that one can simply leave the marital home when things go sour. Our advice to any client is that leaving the home prior to a court order being issued is a mistake, unless of course there is a legitimate fear for you own safety or for the safety of the minor children. Many Chancery Courts in Mississippi routinely rule that the party who has left the marital home without proof of provocation forfeits his or her equitable share of the value/equity of the marital domicile. Trust the advice of a trained professional and duly licensed attorney before making a hasty decision to jump ship altogether.

2. It is okay to start dating as long as I am separated from my spouse. False. Mississippi does not recognize legal separation, and if children are involved, you automatically start out “behind” in terms of the factors considered by the court in an award of custody – Albright v. Albright considers moral fitness as well as continuity of care, so tread very lightly and perhaps just try to enjoy being single for a while (until your marriage is officially dissolved). Also, the Chancery Courts in Mississippi will generally give favor to the adult in the room, i.e., the person who valued the sanctity of marriage until the bitter end, regardless of fault.

3. It is acceptable to drain our joint bank accounts. After all, they are in my name also. False (With a few exceptions). There may in fact be circumstances wherein you should attempt to recoup losses or ensure that future bills will be paid, but this is a challenging and complicated issue. We recommend that you consult with your attorney before taking any such measures, and keep in mind that any action you take out of anger or spite will likely be adverse for you when your case is heard by a Mississippi Chancellor.

4. It is okay to utilize social media to vent about my spouse. We have freedom of speech, after all. False. Any disparaging of your spouse is not solely in the context of personal free speech when children are involved. The Chancery Court is the ultimate arbiter (a.k.a. the super-guardian) of all minor children within its jurisdiction. Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media platform as a forum to vent your frustration is ill-advised. Exercise patience and trust the court to make a fair and consistent judgment, one that will be in the best interests of your children. Divorce, even when relatively amicable, is never easy, and it can be tempting to vent your frustrations or to seek emotional support on social media. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this type of behavior rarely, if ever, earns you favor in a Mississippi Chancery Court.

5. It is my right to choose to minimize my spouse’s contact with the children until the divorce is final. False. (With rare exception). The only legitimate reason to become an obstacle to your spouse’s visitation with your minor children prior to a divorce being finalized is when there are safety concerns which can be shown by proof – if the evidence does not demonstrate that your children are in danger when in the care of your spouse, be careful. The last position you want to be in is to have to explain why you took the reins of child custody without the permission of the court. Remember, the Chancery Court is the legal “super-guardian” of all children within its jurisdiction, and that responsibility is taken incredibly seriously.

If you have a question about this article or about child custody in general (whether in the context of a divorce or otherwise), or if you simply would like to share your input, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact The Law Office of Matthew Poole, via telephone at (601) 573-7429 or email at matthewspoole@gmail.com. We are best equipped to assess your situation and give you some practical advice on steps you can take to receive a favorable result in Mississippi Chancery Court.

The Top 5 Things to Consider in Choosing a Divorce Attorney in Mississippi

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Hiring a divorce attorney is a critical step in your divorce.  The right divorce attorney can mean the difference between a quick, painless divorce and a long, drawn-out, contested one.  Your choice of Mississippi divorce attorney can also heavily influence the outcome of your divorce on the issues that matter most to you, such as alimony, child custody, and asset allocation.  While most people determine early on they need an attorney to help them through the divorce process, many do not know where to turn to find the right attorney, or what to look for in selecting a divorce attorney.  To this end, we have prepared the following list of the top 5 things you should consider in hiring a Mississippi divorce attorney:

  1. Experience is crucial—when you begin researching potential divorce attorneys in your area, look first and foremost at the attorney’s experience in the realm of divorce and knowledge of the local court system.  Experience does not equate to years of practice; rather, experience comes from handling a wide variety of divorce cases in your locale.  Experience will provide your divorce attorney with the necessary know how to competently handle your divorce case, no matter how complicated.  Also examine the attorney’s field of practice.  Does he or she focus primarily on family law, or just practice family law on the side?  While there are always exceptions to the rule, it is generally best to select an attorney who makes family law at least a large part of his or her practice.  This again will speak to the attorney’s thorough knowledge of divorce law and all the issues that accompany it.
  2. Communication skills are a must—when you sit down to interview your potential new attorney, pay close attention to their communication skills.  You should select an attorney that will listen to your concerns and properly address all your questions.  Divorce is a complex matter that involves a lot of emotions.  Your divorce attorney will be your guide throughout the process and must be available and willing to answer the many questions you are expected to have.  Further, an attorney’s communication skills are not only critical when dealing with the client.  Your divorce attorney will be communicating on your behalf to the court, other attorneys, and your divorcing spouse.  Their communication skills or lack thereof can therefore greatly impact your case.
  3.  Select a compassionate attorney—while this might seem minor compared to the two factors listed above, compassion is an important factor to find in a divorce attorney.  You are going through likely one of the most difficult times of your life.  You deserve to have by your side a truly compassionate divorce attorney.
  4. Avoid guaranteed outcomes—avoid attorneys who provide you with a guaranteed outcome.  There is simply no such thing in life or in the courtroom.  Promising such to a client is not professional and indicates a lack of experience in the field.
  5. Hire a divorce attorney that you ultimately feel comfortable with-— while examining an attorney’s website, list of successful cases, education, and brilliant awards may tell you a lot about them, ultimately you should select someone you feel comfortable with.  Your divorce attorney is someone you will likely have to discuss highly personal matters with; someone you may spend a considerable amount of time with; someone who will act as your sounding board, legal interpreter, and mouthpiece.  Comfort is essential and should not be overlooked as a factor in selecting your divorce attorney.

Matthew S. Poole is an experienced divorce lawyer in Mississippi who has handled a wide array of divorce cases.  The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole devotes extensive time and energy to the field of family law and has an in-depth knowledge of the practice.  Matthew is a compassionate divorce attorney who understands the difficult process of divorce and will be there to guide you every step of the way.  Call The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule your consultation.

Will Mississippi Recognize Same-Sex Divorces?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Mississippi is one of 28 states that have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.  Under Mississippi Amendment 1 of the Mississippi Constitution, marriage may take place and be valid under the laws of Mississippi only between a man and a woman.  A marriage in another state or jurisdiction between persons of the same gender will not be recognized in Mississippi and is considered void.  While this Amendment appears definitive, in the country’s post-DOMA landscape, the rights of same-sex couples across jurisdictions are less clear than they used to be.

Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham is testing Mississippi’s post-DOMA laws. Czekala-Chatham married Dana Ann Melancon in California, but did not reside in that state.  Instead, Czekala-Chatham and Melancon have lived together in Southhaven, Mississippi until their separation in 2010.  Czekala-Chatham is now seeking to divorce her wife—and she has filed for divorce in the DeSoto County Chancery Court.  Czekala-Chatham contemplated filing for divorce in California, which does not require same-sex couples meet the traditional residency requirements.  However, California may not be able to rule on matters such as property ownership, debt, and child custody.  Accordingly, Czekala-Chatham and her attorney J. Wesley Hisaw, felt it necessary to seek a divorce in Mississippi.

Czekala-Chatham’s attorney has stated that his client is not looking to make gay marriage in Mississippi legal; rather, she is simply asking the courts to recognize her marriage so that she can obtain a divorce in this state.  Czekala-Chatham said in a telephone interview that she is seeking a divorce from Melancon at this time because she has children from a previous relationship which she needs to protect.  She fears that in the event of her death, Melancon could potentially receive part of her inheritance that she intends for her children.  Czekala-Chatham is seeking ownership of the couple’s Mississippi home and alimony.  Her divorce petition alleges infidelity and cruel and inhumane treatment on behalf of her spouse.

Czekala-Chatham’s case is not entirely unique.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that abolished portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, similar cases have been filed in other U.S. states.  The Texas Supreme Court recently announced it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction over same-sex divorces.  Oral arguments are schedule for November 5.  Texas, which like Mississippi does not recognize same-sex marriage, has had at least two same-sex couples file for divorce in the state since June.

Czekala-Chatham’s case is an interesting test case that will likely face an uphill battle.  Massachusetts Constitutional Amendment 1 makes it clear the state does not recognize same-sex marriages.  It stands to reason that same-sex divorces would similarly not be recognized.  However, as Czekala-Chatham reasoned, a lack of jurisdiction to file for divorce in Mississippi may leave her without an adequate remedy anyplace.  California may well not be able to rule on issues central to her divorce, such as ownership of her Mississippi home, alimony, and child custody.  Mississippi, like numerous other states that do not recognize same-sex marriage, will have some serious considerations to make over the next few years as an increasing number of cases will likely continue to be filed concerning post-DOMA issues.

If you are considering divorcing your same-sex spouse in the state of Mississippi, call The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole.  Matthew S. Poole is a preeminent divorce law attorney in Mississippi that is not afraid to take on a challenging case.  Matthew S. Poole will fight tirelessly for your same-sex marriage divorce to gain recognition in Mississippi.  With his creative thinking skills and vast knowledge of Constitutional Law, Matthew S. Poole can help you achieve the legal results you desire.  Call him today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.