Posts Tagged ‘Jackson Mississippi divorce attorney’

As the Economy Recovers, Many Predict the Divorce Rate May Actually Climb

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

It seems to run contrary to logic.  We have all heard that finances are the number one cause of divorce.  In light of this fact, it is easy to assume that the divorce rate would be at its highest in a down economy.  However, new studies reveal that the opposite might be accurate.  Divorce predictors divine that as the economy continues to shakily find its footing and enter a path to recovery, the number of divorces each year will actually increase.

Here is a look at the reasons behind the rise in divorces at a time when the economy is improving:

  1. Falling house prices, rising inflation, and high rates of unemployment may have put strain on the relationship—for some couples, the recent recession, and the ensuing housing crisis, caused the breakdown of their relationship.  Financial woes are the most common cause of divorce, and this downtrodden economy likely left the marriage of many couples in shambles.  Despite agreement between the spouses that the marriage was over, some couples put off filing for divorce for the reason discussed in number two below.
  2. The poor economy forced couples to stay together—during the economic downturn, many couples elected to stay together not out of love or devotion, but because they could not afford to do otherwise.  Many families struggled with underwater homes and joblessness.  A couple’s home, pre-recession, was generally one of the largest assets to divide.  With plummeting home values, divorcing during the housing crisis would have left many individuals with grave financial losses.  Further, if one or more spouse was out of work, it took both spouses pulling together to simply provide for the basic needs of themselves and their children.  Lastly, some couples could not afford the expense of a divorce during the recession times.  Accordingly, the most recent recession likely forced numerous unhappy couples to stay together.
  3. As the economy grows, people can again afford to divorce—the recession pushed many couples to desire divorce, and while the down economy forced spouses to stay married, today’s improving economy has provided them with the financial stability to seek that divorce they have been putting off.  As the housing market continues to rise, couples can once again count on their homes to provide a major source of marital assets.  The rate of joblessness has diminished, so many spouses now feel confident enough in the job market to set out on their own.  Further, more couples can simply afford the cost of divorce.  The number one concern of divorcing parties is the expense.  Divorce can come at a high price, between attorney’s fees, court fees, accountant expenses, and the like.  Obtaining a divorce while the economy was sluggish was simply impossible for some.

For these reasons, many researchers and divorce lawyers predict that the coming years will see a rise in the number of divorces.  This phenomenon is not unique to the United States.  In Britain, divorce rates reached new lows in 2008, just as the country’s economy was devastated by the financial crisis.

If you have made the difficult decision to divorce your spouse, The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole can help.  Matthew S. Poole is a dedicated, compassionate divorce attorney with a stellar reputation in the community and years of experience in the arena of divorce law.  At The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole, we understand that concerns of expense can lead to delay in seeking your divorce.  We are always open and up front about our fees and willing to work with you to see you obtain that divorce you desire.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Mississippi Divorce Lawyer Provides 5 Steps You Should Take to Have an Amicable Divorce

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

The term divorce has become nearly synonymous with expense, acrimony, stress, and drawn out litigation.  Often, fear of a costly and bitter divorce leads spouses to postpone initiating the process though divorce is clearly in their best interest.  However, with the right approach, divorce does not have to be demoralizing or tear apart your financial future.  Divorce can be quick, smooth, peaceful, and financially beneficial.  While divorce will never be painless, it can be as stress free as possible.  Below is a list of five steps you should take to achieve an amicable divorce:

  1. Agree to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences—Mississippi is one of the few states that does not allow for no-fault divorce.  However, spouses can file for divorce based upon irreconcilable differences if both parties agree to the divorce.  If there are no contested issues, the divorce can be granted 60 days after the petition is filed.  By having you and your spouse agree to and seek an uncontested divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you will obtain a divorce in as short of time as possible, with very little stress, and no emotional allegations of fault.
  2. Turn to mediation early on—if you and your soon to be ex spouse do not agree on certain divorce issues, it is best to seek mediation as soon as possible.  Mediation is a highly successful process and able to bring most divorces to settlement.  If your goal is an amicable divorce, mediation is often the way to achieve this while still being able to advocate for those divorce issues you care most about.
  3. Retain an attorney who is settlement minded—it is important that your attorney supports your wish for an amicable divorce.  An attorney who seeks conflict and courtroom battles will be a poor choice to lead you to a controversy free settlement.  Instead, look for an attorney who will zealously fight for the best settlement possible while always keeping in mind your goal of maintaining harmony.
  4. Put the children first—often, one of the strongest motivating factors for achieving an amicable divorce is concern for the children involved.  While issues like custody, child support, and visitation are all important and require resolve, it is crucial that divorcing spouses approach each of these with their child’s best interest in mind.  When parents are able to set aside their own emotions over the divorce, they will be better able to make harmonious decisions as to custody arrangements.  Achieving an amicable divorce will be your first step towards successful co-parenting for years to come.
  5. Focus on creating a new life and do not cling to former assets—divvying up assets is often one of the most painful and controversy filled aspects of a divorce.  Rather than becoming bogged down in arguing over assets which is sure to lead to feelings of hurt, divorcing spouses should focus instead on the new life they are about to enter.  Leave the asset division to the attorneys, who will articulately argue for you to receive those assets you are entitled to.

Matthew S. Poole is an experienced divorce attorney with unmatched skill in negotiation and a proven track record for achieving favorable settlements.  As a compassionate attorney, Matthew strives to see every client obtain their divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible.  To this end, Matthew will work with you to successfully accomplish an amicable divorce that will leave you emotionally and financially ready for your new post-divorce life.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Divorce After the Holidays: When The Lights Come Down, The Divorce Papers Are Filed

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

The holidays are full of family fun.  Parents, children, and extended family gather to decorate, bake, baste turkeys, wrap presents, select a Christmas tree, and the like.  For some, the holidays are also stress-filled, with gift expectations, visits with family you otherwise try to avoid, and much bustling activity.   The holidays represent the end of the road for a select group of married couples.  Once the Christmas lights come down and the decorations are stored, legal proceedings begin to ensure this will be their last holiday season spent as a married couple.

January is the most popular month for couples to file for divorce.  Divorce attorneys often refer to January as “Divorce Month” and many take vacation time in advance of January so they are well-rested heading into the busy divorce season.  Divorce gurus debate the most popular day of the month for filing, with some urging the first Monday after the kids go to school is the busiest time, while others argue it is the first full working week after the holidays that sends couples running to the courthouse.  The popular website DivorcedWomenOnline.com reports a huge increase in the number of page views and searches the day after Christmas, suggesting some husbands and wives become disenchanted in the marriage during this time period but must wait until after attorneys are back in their offices, generally around January 12-16, to file.

The Divorce Month phenomenon begs the question, why do so many people file for divorce in January?  Here is a list of common theories for the spike of January divorces:

  1. Let the kids enjoy the holidays—many parents with children may have been anticipating a divorce months before the holidays, but opt to wait to begin formal proceedings until after Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years so that the holidays are not ruined for their children.  This “wait till after the holidays” school of thought then results in a glut of divorce filings in early January, once the excitement of the holiday season has passed.
  2. The marriage cannot survive the holidays—for some husbands and wives, the stress, excitement, and expectations are what push an already faltering marriage over the brink.  Emotions tend to run high during the holiday season.  Most people are off work for an extended period of time, forcing couples to spend more time together than they ordinarily would.  Add in a mix of snide comments from relatives, the need to act “merry” even if you are not, and the always overwhelming challenge of selecting the perfect gift for your spouse, and you can see why some couples exit the holidays vowing never to do it again.
  3. The New Year is a time for fresh beginnings—many people, especially in this down economy, may have been stalling getting a divorce for months.  They know the marriage is over but keep waiting for that right time to formally begin proceedings.  For some, the cost is prohibitive as well.  The New Year and its promise for a fresh start is the push many couples need to finally file for divorce.  Further, financially, filing after the holidays can have tax benefits.

Matthew S. Poole is a compassionate Mississippi divorce attorney who provides his clients with the highest quality legal representation available.  Matthew Poole understands how difficult the holidays can be on some couples and is here to help you.  For a thorough explanation of your rights in the event of a divorce and your filing options, contact Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 for a free initial consultation.

The Future of Divorce Part II: Predictions for 2014 and Beyond

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

As the New Year approaches, we continue our look at the future of divorce law.  The following is the second part of our predictions for the future of divorce in 2014 and beyond:

  1. The Divorce Rate May Rise—there are several factors that might contribute to a rise in the already staggering divorce rate in the coming years.  First, divorces have skyrocketed amongst older adults.  More Americans over the age of 50 are now divorced rather than widowed, a marked change from previous decades.  Most attribute this to demographic factors, including the increase in the life expectancy of adults.  As the lifespan of Americans continues to rise and the overall age of the population increases, it seems like divorce rates will also jump.  Next, some speculate that the new healthcare system may lead to divorces between couples in order to obtain health insurance.  While this might seem rather extreme, some married spouses have already taken this step.  Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, married couples can be required to pay premiums far in excess of their single counterparts.  With some many struggling to pay their bills in this shaky economy, the strain of healthcare premiums may signal the end of the marriage for some Americans.  Lastly, the continued recession may contribute to a rise in the divorce rate.  Money is the most common factor leading to the breakdown of a marriage, and it makes sense that when times are tight, the stress and anxiety over finances will end an increasing number of marriages.
  2. More Americans Will Elect to Divorce Without a Lawyer—studies reveal that the number one concern of those considering divorce is cost.  Previously, it had been child custody.  Many Americans are struggling in this down economy, and with the rise in self-help tools available on the internet, more and more are electing to pursue a divorce sans attorney.  For most, this short-term savings will result in long-term loses, as no amount of self-help material can provide a layperson with the years of knowledge a divorce attorney would provide.  Regardless, it appears likely the number of do-it-yourself divorcers will continue to climb in 2014 and beyond.
  3. Joint Physical Custody Will Prevail—in the past, the “custody norm” was for the mother to obtain primary custody with the father having visitation on weekends and holidays.  This has all changed.  Today, shared custody, wherein both parents have the children for an equal or nearly equal amount of time, has become the most popular custody arrangement and one favored by the courts.  This new norm will continue to grow in the coming years.  Additionally, there has been a rise in the number of fathers obtaining primary custody of their children when the situation so warrants.  It seems likely this previously rare phenomenon will grow, as courts come to view both parents as equally important in the lives of their children.
  4. Domestic Violence Will Increase—sadly, the past few years have seen growth in the rates of domestic violence.  The recent tragedy in Tennessee wherein a woman shot her husband right outside their attorney’s office serves to highlight this mounting problem.  In tough economic times, domestic violence occurs more frequently.  As the country’s financial conditions continue to take a few dips before finding the path to recovery, domestic violence rates could swell.
  5. Court Involvement in Co-habitation Break-ups May Rise—the number of Americans electing to simply co-habitat instead of marrying has sharply climbed in the past few years and is expected to continue to increase.  As more and more couples live together, have children, and acquire property as a unit, outside of the laws of marriage, court intervention will be necessary to resolve issues that traditionally would have come under the realm of a divorce court.

In the coming year, if you find yourself contemplating divorce or mulling over any other family law issue, Matthew S. Poole is here to assist you.  A premier divorce attorney in the Jackson, Mississippi area, Matthew Poole will provide you with exemplary legal services.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 for a free initial consultation.

The Future of Divorce Part I: Predictions for 2014 and Beyond

Monday, December 9th, 2013

The past decade brought many changes to the field of divorce and divorce law, with divorce rates spiking, same-sex couples marrying and divorcing, and an increasing number of do-it-yourself divorcers.  Divorce is an area of law that is highly susceptible to changing cultural norms.  It is also influenced significantly by evolving technology.  Some divorce trends that emerged in the past century appear here to stay, while others may fade away.  Even further, new movements are developing that were previously unheard of.

As the New Year approaches, we have prepared the following segment on the future of divorce law.  This two part blog series sets out our predictions for the future of divorce in America.  Take a look at what trends we expect to continue and what new alterations could occur in the field of divorce law:

  1. The Internet and Social Media Will Continue to Impact Divorces—the past few years saw a sharp rise in the use of social networking websites.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have all become a part of most people’s daily routine, dictating their interactions with others.  While these websites can be fun and help individuals keep in touch, their impact on divorce has been palpable.  The internet tends to provide individuals with a sense of privacy, allowing for careless abandon when it comes to posting material best kept hidden.  Social media sites have lead to the break-up of many couples, and have also become an important tool during a divorce.  In most states, activity on social media and other networking sites can be subpoenaed and admitted in court.  Pictures of spouses intimately posing with others can be costly in a custody battle, and references to job bonuses may lead to questions concerning the credibility of your financial affidavit.  One thing is clear—the popularity of social media websites appears cemented amongst the American public.  It is likely the internet will continue to lead to marriages ending and thrive as a source for evidence against couples going through divorce.
  2. Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce Rates Will Climb—the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage is growing by the month.  Currently, 15 states plus the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples.  Further, Oregon recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states although it has yet to legalize the institution.  With the Supreme Court’s recent decision abolishing the Defense of Marriage Act and calling for federal recognition of same-sex marriages, the momentum is behind gay marriage.  It appears likely more and more states will pass legislation allowing for same-sex marriage.  As the number of same-sex marriages increases, the rate of divorce in this subgroup will also rise.  In turn, a mounting number of states will grapple with the issue of same-sex divorce.  While Mississippi has recently declined to grant a same-sex divorce in the case of Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham, this will not be the end of the issue.
  3. Permanent Alimony Will Officially Become Extinct—in the last century, as societal norms have changed and women increasingly work outside the home throughout the duration of their marriage, permanent alimony has become a thing of the past.  Many states, like Mississippi, severely limit awards of permanent alimony, confining it to situations in which the marriage exceeded ten years and a great disparity of income existed.  A few states will award permanent alimony, but, absent another alternation in family norms, it seems like permanent alimony will be obsolete in the next few years.

Matthew S. Poole is a seasoned Mississippi divorce attorney who prides himself on compassionate, intelligent representation.  Matthew will accommodate all of your family law needs, so call him today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Termination of Parental Assistance Due To a Child’s Poor Behavior in Mississippi

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Under Mississippi law, a child can forfeit both child support and college assistance through his or her poor behavior.  A case recently decided by the Mississippi Court of Appeals provides a thorough examination of the issue.  In the case of Stasny v. Wages, No. 2012-CA-00567-COA, decided June 25, 2013, Lori Stasny and John Wages divorced in 2004.  The couple had two children during the marriage, Sarah and Tyler.  Stasny and Wages agreed to a joint custody agreement wherein neither would pay child support and both would equally contribute to the children’s vehicle expenses and college trust funds.  Four years later, Stasny and Wages ended up back in court requesting a modification of the custody arrangement.  They decided that Lori Stasny, the mother, would have custody of Sarah and Tyler would be in the custody of his father, John Wages.

A year later, Stasny petitioned to have Wages’ parental rights terminated, and both children joined in the petition.  A guardian ad litem was appointed and informed the court that Sarah, then 16, desired to have Wages parental rights terminated so that she could be adopted by her stepfather.  However, the court could not find grounds for termination.  Stasny tried to negotiate with Wages by offering to terminate his financial obligations towards the children if he terminated his rights, but he refused.  The case sat on the docket unresolved.

In 2010, Stasny sought to be awarded child support and to modify the settlement agreement.  By this time, Tyler had reached the age of emancipation, so the only concern was Wages’ financial obligations towards 18-year-old Sarah.  A hearing was held, encompassing the request for child support and the still pending petition to terminate Wages’ parental rights.  At the hearing, Sarah testified that she had not seen her father in over two years, despite the fact that she was scheduled to see him every other weekend.  She said she had other priorities which took precedence over her relationship with her father.

Based on the evidence, the chancellor concluded that Sarah’s actions towards her father were clear and extreme enough to warrant forfeiture of her father’s financial obligations towards her and reversal of his agreement to pay for college expenses.  The court of appeals upheld this determination.

The court of appeals summarized the law in Mississippi concerning termination of child support or college education responsibility as follows:

  1. Termination of child support—in order for a child to reject the parent-child relationship to the extent that child support is forfeited, the child’s actions must have been both clear and extreme.  Courts will generally look at whether the child has abandoned the parent-child relationship, such as refusing to visit with or communicate with the parent for an extended period of time.
  2. Termination of support of college-aged children—if the child is college-aged, as was Sarah, the court need not find the child’s actions clear and extreme.  Instead, a parent’s duty to support a college-aged child is dependent not only on the child’s aptitude for college, but on the child’s behavior toward and relationship with the parent.  The court will look at whether the parent-child relationship makes the child deserving of the additional financial burden placed on the parent.  Mississippi courts applying this standard have found no obligation to support a college-aged child where the child refused to visit the parent and spoke disparagingly towards the parent.

If you are a parent seeking to terminate your parental obligations towards a child who refuses to have a relationship with you, it is imperative you consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney.  An action to terminate your financial obligations is complex and will require the assistance of  a skilled child support attorney.  Similarly, if you are a child who stands to lose the financial assistance of a parent due to your alleged poor behavior, you should act quickly to secure the representation of an experienced child support attorney.  You need to begin mounting your defense to such allegations.

The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole has extensive experience in a wide array of family law matters, including termination of parental obligations due to a child’s poor behavior.  We can assist you in your action, whether it involves an action to terminate financial obligations or defense of a motion to terminate.  Call us today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.

Parental Alienation Syndrome—Grounds for Custody Changes in Mississippi?

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

While divorce is, regrettably, painful for all those involved, it can be especially hard on the children. Custody battles can get nasty, with the real losers being the children. Although most parents are aware, on some level, that “bad-mouthing” the other parent is not a beneficial practice, hurt and anger may step in, removing whatever self-control the parent may have been exercising. Parental alienation occurs when one parent actively seeks to pull the children away from the other as a form of retaliation for issues experienced during the marriage.

Of course there are various levels of parental alienation ranging from the occasional snarky comment to an all-out war against the other parent, using the children as pawns and with little consideration of the short and long-term effects. (Keep in mind that if the parent has committed acts of verbal, physical or sexual abuse against the children, leading them to shun that parent, this is not considered parental alienation.)

One Extreme Case of Parental Alienation

While divorced dads are the most likely to claim parental alienation syndrome, men are not always the target. Over a year ago, a lesbian couple made the news for what one partner characterized as a ten-year campaign with a clear goal of parental alienation. The parent who gave birth to the children via artificial insemination was awarded primary custody while the other parent was awarded visitation rights. Time and time again excuses were made, rendering the non-custodial parent unable to spend time with her children. While the judge in the case ruled the children (ages 11 and 14) no longer thought seeing the alienated parent was “valid or worthwhile” and that it was more important for them to live the way they wanted, a Court of Appeals disagreed.

The Court stated the view of the girls had been tainted by the birth mother, adding there was a clear mismatch between what the girls said and how they behaved.  The Court further stated that the original judge failed to factor in the crucial importance of the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the children and the damage they would suffer if that relationship was lost. The parent encouraging the alienation was sharply reprimanded by the court, asked to cease alienating the children against the other parent and was told custody could be given to the other parent if the alienating behaviors did not stop.

Occasional Alienators

Most divorced parents fall into this category; while they generally keep the best interests of the children uppermost in the equation and are overall fairly cooperative with the other children, anger may nonetheless break through occasionally, leading to an unfortunate comment to the children. These parents share information and actually make a concerted effort to avoid saying negative things about the other parent in front of or to the children. Even in this mildest form, the children can end up feeling torn between their parents. They may feel a need to defend the parent being disparaged or may feel they must side with the parent making the negative remarks. Either way, the children likely end up feeling secretly angry about the situation.

Full-Blown Alienators

Parents who actively and constantly say unkind things about the other parent in front of the children might be considered “mid-level alienators.” These parents recognize they should not be saying negative things about the other parent, but frustration and anger gets in the way. In order to assuage the guilt they feel for the negative remarks, they may tell themselves they are protecting the children from the other parent in some way. In extreme cases parents may carefully plan the alienation strategy with a clear goal of causing the children to refuse to see the other parent. This is the most dangerous form of parental alienation, and if it can be proved, courts may change the original custody agreement, evening giving primary custody to the other parent.

Getting Legal Help When Your Children are Suffering Parental Alienation

If you are a parent who has suffered parental alienation following your divorce, your first step should be to speak to Matthew S. Poole. As a single father with a young child, Matthew S. Poole fully understands the myriad of issues involved in child custody arrangements. We will fight hard for your parental rights and will deal with your individual situation with experience and compassion. Child custody issues are often fraught with emotion and we will do our best to minimize any negative fallout your children may be experiencing. Call (601) 573-7429 today to speak with a knowledgeable divorce attorney.