Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi custody attorney’

Mississippi Child Custody Attorney Explains if Your Ex Spouse Won’t Pay Child Support Obligations in Mississippi

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

You depend upon your court ordered child support amount each month to provide for your child’s basic needs.  When that check does not arrive on time, it can have severe negative repercussions for your family and finances.  Sadly, a significant portion of the U.S. population is constantly grappling with the problem of unpaid child support.  An estimated 11.2 million child support cases have arrears due in each year.  For those parents whose former spouses are behind on child support, numerous enforcement options do exist.  The following is a look at the various enforcement methods available for those spouses struggling to obtain the child support they are entitled to.

  1. Civil contempt action—child support is a court ordered obligation, meaning that one who fails to comply with the order can be found in contempt.  Contempt is defined as the willful and obstinate violation of a court order.  Civil contempt proceedings can be initiated in chancery court.  The complaining party must make a prima facie, or initial showing that the court has ordered child support and it has not been met.  The non-custodial or owing party will then have a chance to rebut, generally arguing either support is not due or the party is unable to pay the ordered sum.  The purpose of civil contempt is remedial.  In some instances, the owing parent will be placed in jail, which is intended to coerce compliance.  Each day in the U.S., an estimated 50,000 people are put in prison each day for failing to pay child support.  The Supreme Court recently determined that debtor parents do not have the right to counsel in civil contempt proceedings.  A knowledgeable divorce attorney can assist you in filing your contempt action, and the contempt process is a powerful tool for obtaining the child support you are entitled to.
  2. Credit Bureau Reporting—the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Enforcement exists, in part, to enforce child support orders.  The Child Support Program has the ability to report the non custodial parent’s delinquency to the credit bureau.  In that way, your former spouse’s failure to pay child support can have a serious impact on their ability to finance purchases.  This can be a strong motivator for your former spouse to stay on top of child support obligations.
  3. License suspension—the Division of Child Support Enforcement also has the ability to suspend or even revoke your delinquent ex-spouse’s drivers license as well as professional or business licenses.  Stripping your former spouse of his or her ability to drive or engage in business is a powerful tool towards coercing compliance.
  4. Passport revocation—a parent who owes more than $2,500 in child support will have his or her passport revoked or application for a passport denied.  In order to travel again, your former spouse would be required to become current with child support payments.
  5. Court ordered employment—Mississippi courts can actually order the non custodial spouse to get a job so that they can afford to provide child support for their children, thereby eliminating the owing spouse’s excuse that they cannot afford to make payments.

If your former spouse is behind on child support payments, Matthew S. Poole can help.  Matthew is a Mississippi divorce attorney with years of experience in contempt proceedings.  Matthew understands how devastating it can be when your former spouse fails to comply with his or her child support obligation.  He will take all necessary steps to get you the support you deserve.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Child Custody and Siblings: Is Splitting Up Siblings Ever the Best Answer?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Custody disputes in Mississippi are often emotion filled and difficult.  Two parents who both love their children are put in the unenviable position of battling amongst each other for custody of their children.  Custody disputes are never easy, whether one child is involved or four, but for multi-children households, the issue arises: is it ever best to split up siblings?

The Mississippi Supreme Court expressed in the case Sellers v. Sellers, 638 So.2d 481 (Miss. 1994), that there is a strong preference for keeping siblings together.  Separating siblings should only be done where unusual circumstances justify it.  In Sootin v. Sootin, 737 So.2d 1022 (Miss. Ct. App. 1998), 1998 decision coming out of the Mississippi Court of Appeals, the court overturned an order separating two sisters, ages eleven and twelve, finding that one daughter’s slightly greater attachment to her mother did not justify separation.

However, the preference for keeping siblings together can be overridden if doing so would place a child in adverse or dangerous circumstances.  In the sad case of Carson v. Natchez Children’s Home, 580 So.2d 1248 (Miss. 1991), the court found no error in separating siblings where both had been sexually abused and acted out sexually together.

For all child custody determinations a Mississippi court will ultimately use the best interests and welfare of the child standard.  In making a best interest determination, the court will look to numerous factors including:

  1. The age, health, and sex of the child
  2. Which parent has had continuing care of the child before the separation
  3. Parenting skills of the parent
  4. Employment responsibilities
  5. Physical and mental health of the parents
  6. Emotional ties of the parent and child
  7. The preference of a child over the age of 12
  8. The parent’s moral fitness
  9. Stability of the home environment
  10. Child’s home and school record
  11. The parent’s willingness and ability to provide primary child care
  12. Any other relevant factors

The court will apply these factors and determine what custody arrangement is in the best interest of each child individually. Accordingly, it is feasible that what is best for one child is not best for all.  A court could find that one sibling would be best situated with his or her father, for instance, where the child is more strongly bonded, goes to school in the district where the father lives, and expresses a desire to remain with the father.  Whereas the other siblings might not yet be school age, have a preference for the mother, and the mother has been the primary child care giver.  In a situation such as this, it is not inconceivable that the court would split the siblings, despite the strong preference for keeping siblings together, because the unusual situation dictates such.

In most situations, keeping siblings together is the best course of action.  The bond between siblings is very strong and the courts recognize this.  However, in rare instances, splitting up siblings may be the best interest of each child involved.  If you feel your children may benefit from being split, a knowledgeable child custody attorney can examine the facts of your case and determine whether this may be a viable option for your family.

Matthew S. Poole is a Mississippi child custody attorney who has tackled even the most difficult of child custody cases, often breaching novel issues and managing tough situations.  If you have a complex child custody case, contact The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 for a free case analysis.

Child Custody Agreements in Mississippi

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

In Mississippi, parties to a divorce can create a child custody agreement, which normally a) contains a plan for custody and visitation of the minor children, and b) determines how vacation time and holidays will be apportioned among the parents.  A child custody agreement can be created as soon as your divorce case starts, and ends when the court ultimately approves its terms.  Importantly, these agreements, once accepted, legally bind the parties and as such, must be complied with at all times.

The most efficient way of putting together a child custody agreement is by working together with your spouse during the divorce process.  While this is not always possible given the difficult circumstances often surrounding a divorce, the more you are able to cooperate with your spouse, the less painful your divorce process may be.  If you are struggling to get a custody agreement together, Mississippi allows for a mediator to assist with the process.  Experienced Mississippi family law attorneys can also be extremely useful in helping the parties reach an agreement.

In order to create an appropriate custody agreement, it is important to understand the various custodial arrangements that parents can seek in Mississippi.  Specifically, a party can seek sole custody, which is when a child resides with one parent and has visitation with the other.  Parties can also seek joint physical custody, the most common form sought, which refers to an arrangement where both parents share in the custody of the child.  This does not necessarily mean that the time spent with each parent is equal however, it does afford the parties a reasonable amount of time to be with their children.  Moreover, parties can also seek joint legal custody, which is the ability for both parents to make important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.  Most often, parents seek joint legal custody unless, i.e., the ideologies or beliefs of the one parent are the complete polar opposite of the other, making it more appropriate for one parent to have sole legal custody.

When coming up with an appropriate custodial arrangement, it is highly recommended that parents consider not only their needs, but also, the needs of their children.  This means that parents should think about the adaptability of their children, with whom would it be more appropriate for the children to primarily reside, how suited the children are to their school, church, and community in general, and also, what their children have expressed in terms of their own preferences.

Once an appropriate custodial arrangement has been established, a visitation schedule can also be included within the agreement.  Parents should contemplate a schedule that is convenient for all parties and also, easy to follow.  While visitation schedules may vary, many people choose to have the children spend every weekend or every other weekend with one parent while they remain at the other parent’s house during the school week.

Additionally, we cannot stress enough the importance for parties to a custodial agreement to realize that it is legally binding.  As such, you should make sure that the agreement reflects everything both accurately and appropriately.  Forgetting to add something in the agreement can create headaches later on so we always recommend that you review the agreement in its totality before signing on the dotted line.  Again, attorneys can really add value to this process, and as such, it is highly recommended that you work with one in order to fully protect your legal interests.

If you are considering getting a divorce, it is essential to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling these types of cases.  Only a skilled Mississippi family law attorney can help you learn more about your legal options, the nature and extent of your rights and responsibilities, and how to optimize your chances of getting what you want out of your divorce case.  Give us a call now – we look forward to providing you with excellent representation.

Contact Mississippi custody lawyer Matthew S. Poole for a consultation by calling (601) 573-7429 today.