Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi family law attorney’

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Talks about Grandparent Visitation

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

When parents are involved in a custody dispute, they are likely to be most concerned about what will happen to them, and to the amount of time that they are able to spend with their children. However, many children enjoy spending time with other adults who are not parents, such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents. When parents make decisions regarding custody, the ability of some of these individuals to spend time with the children may be affected. Depending upon where the parents live in relation to a child’s grandparents, the degree of grandparent involvement in the child’s life prior to a division of custody, and other factors, some grandparents may experience a drastic reduction in the amount of time that they can spend with their grandchildren.

            In families where grandparents provide child care and other family support, their ability to visit with the children is sometimes addressed in the custody agreement as part of a plan for child care. At other times, custody agreements deal solely with the parents and leave visitation with other adults, including grandparents, to the parents’ discretion. There is no national law requiring that grandparent visitation be addressed in custody cases, nor do grandparents have any absolute rights to visit with their grandchildren.

            The benefits of grandparent relationships to children are widely acknowledged, as are grandparents’ abilities to support their children, in-laws, and former in-laws in their parenting. Without a guarantee of visitation, though, both grandparents and their grandchildren are at risk of having those beneficial relationships reduced or eliminated. Fortunately, parents may choose to acknowledge grandparent relationships in child custody agreements. Also, in certain situations, grandparents may seek visitation under the Grandparent Visitation Act of 1983. As it does with anything that affects a child, the court will consider the “best interest of the child” when it makes its determination of whether to award grandparent visitation.

The specific group of grandparents who may petition the court for visitation in Mississippi includes the parents of parents who were either not awarded custody of their children (the other parent got full custody), or whose parental rights have been terminated. Other grandparents who do not fit the aforementioned description may also petition the court for visitation, but they must prove that the children’s parents are being unreasonable in denying them the opportunity to visit grandchildren with whom they have viable relationships. Of course, grandparents who seek visitation through the courts should know that the process is likely to promote divisiveness within the family. However, in cases where the court determines that an award of grandparent visitation will serve the best interests of the children, grandparents often find that the unpleasantness or inconvenience of dealing with the children’s parents on the issue of visitation is often well worth the joy of seeing their grandchildren and continuing to be a part of their lives.

If you are a grandparent who would like to pursue grandparent visitation through the courts, Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you. Likewise, if you are a parent involved in a custody dispute and you wish to include grandparent visitation as part of your parenting plan, Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you accomplish that. Please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


Mississippi Family Law Attorney Discusses a Positive Effect of Shared Custody

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Divorcing parents are likely to worry about the emotional experience that their children will have during and after their divorce. Fortunately, new research that was recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health is likely to put the minds of at least some divorcing parents a little more at ease. The study indicates that children who split their time between both parents relatively equally often enjoy good mental health.

If you have chosen to share custody with your former or soon to be former spouse, you are likely to find the results of this study quite reassuring. If you are in the initial stages of a divorce or you are contemplating divorce, you may want to consider the findings of this research as you decide how you will proceed with custody in your divorce case.

The findings in this study are important for many reasons, one being that some parents who choose shared or split custody and some who are contemplating it are concerned that frequent transitions between the homes of their parents will have a negative effect on their children’s sense of stability. The research indicates that children who move frequently between two homes experience less stress and stress-related ailments, such as headaches and stomachaches, than those who spend the majority of their time with one parent do.

            Part of the reason why kids in shared or split custody situations may experience less stress is that parents who have chosen those kind of arrangements often have less interpersonal conflict than parents who choose or are given other kinds of custody arrangements. This is often because parents who choose shared custody understand how much interpersonal communication and contact they must have in order to co-parent, and they learn how to do so while keeping the fighting to a minimum. Also, in arrangements where one parent has sole custody and the other has visitation, there is a larger risk that the child will somehow lose contact with one parent than there is in shared parenting arrangements. The results of the study indicate that the amount of movement between parents’ homes has less of a negative impact on children than tension and arguments, and the risk of losing contact with one parent do.

Deciding how to approach parenting can be a very difficult part of a Mississippi divorce. It can be hard to figure out how to account for your own needs as well as the needs of each of your children when proposing a custody arrangement to your soon to be former spouse, or when assessing a proposal that your son to be former spouse has created. When you work with a Mississippi Family Law Attorney, you can feel confident that you will get all of the information that you need in order to make a choice that will work for you and for your children. If you would like more information about the child custody options that are available to parents who divorce in Mississippi, Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help. Please call us today, at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Talks about Unpaid Child Support

Friday, May 1st, 2015

When parents enter into a child support agreement or they are given a child support order by the court, they expect that they will receive child support. Unfortunately, as many parents know all too well, an agreement or even a court order does not always guarantee that the promised or required support will be forthcoming.

The problem of unpaid child support is a nationwide issue. Here in Mississippi and in many other places, there are parents who owe child support amounts that amount to thousands of dollars apiece. The parents are not just the “deadbeat dads” that are often pointed out in media accounts of the problem. The parents who fail to pay child support are men and women. The problem is also not restricted to a specific economic status, either. Some of the parents who owe thousands of dollars in child support are, in fact, impoverished, but others are financially stable or even wealthy.

In one county in Georgia, a full thirty five percent of parents who have been ordered to pay child support have failed to pay at least some of the amount that they were ordered to pay. Court officers visit their homes looking for them. Sometimes they do locate the individuals and arrest them, but often they do not. Sometimes the money is able to be collected, and other times it is not. To further complicate matters, many parents who are owed child support are unable to afford an attorney who can help them pursue a case against the other parent for the unpaid support.

When parents who are due child support do not receive it, they are forced to make do with what resources they have or can earn on their own. They also must often find additional work in order to make ends meet, and this sometimes involves placing their children in the care of others for even more time than they already do. This sort of constant financial and physical struggling to stay afloat is stressful for parents, to be sure, but the children are the ones who miss out even more. They can sense, if not always see, the stress and struggles that their parent endures in order to provide them with the basics – food, shelter, and a little clothing. They also miss out on spending time with their parent, especially when the parent must work additional hours and have the child attend day care or after school programs, or stay with a babysitter or family member while they do so.

If unpaid child support is a problem for you, it may be time for you to pursue the funds that you and your children deserve. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole may be able to help you get the back child support that you are owed, and get the child support payments flowing regularly again. To learn more, call our office today, at (601) 573-7429, to set up a free consultation.


Mississippi Family Law Attorney Discusses Domestic Violence

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

Divorce is not easy for anyone, but it is even more difficult for those who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence. Unfortunately, the number of people who are affected by domestic violence continues to increase, which means that there are more divorce cases where domestic violence is a factor. There are also people who would like to get divorced from their abusers, but their abusers effectively prevent them from doing so. Since domestic violence is an issue in many divorce cases, it is an important topic to discuss.

Sometimes, people who are affected by domestic violence do not realize it, or they do not know that what they are experiencing is, in fact, unacceptable treatment which no one deserves to be subjected to. Some situations where there is domestic violence are obvious, marked by incidents of physical abuse. However, there are other ways in which spouses can be abused. When one spouse restricts the other’s access to resources, thereby limiting their options and their freedom, that is a form of abuse. Likewise, a pattern of humiliation, degradation, and belittling that leaves one spouse constantly feeling inferior is indicative of emotional abuse.

If you are in a marriage where you are being abused, you may be afraid to file for divorce. Abusers use scare tactics and threats to deter their spouses from pursuing divorce, but the threat of living with continued abuse that endangers their well-being and the well-being of their children can be enough to cause an abused spouse to commit to ending the marriage, even if it takes a great deal of effort to do so. For example, an abused spouse may have to get themselves and their children out of the home and to a safe living situation before consulting with a family law attorney or filing any paperwork.

It is important that people who have experienced domestic violence do not let it deter them from pursuing a divorce and moving on to the better life that they and their children deserve. Some people who have experienced domestic violence have been made to feel as though they deserved it, they caused it, or that they are somehow to blame. This can make them reluctant to speak to a family law attorney, because they may feel as though the attorney will judge them, or that they will be unable to help them. Family law attorneys are able to help people get divorced, whether they are in abusive relationships or not. Your Mississippi Family Law Attorney is here to help you, and to provide you with guidance that meets your unique needs.

Ending a marriage to an abusive spouse is difficult, but continuing to live with an abusive spouse is even more so. If you have questions about divorce, Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you understand the divorce process, and work through it every step of the way. Please call us today, at (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Shares Divorce Tips for Parents of Toddlers

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Divorce can be difficult for a child of any age. Fortunately, it is possible for parents to help their children understand and adjust to the changes in their family situation in such a way that the divorce does not have a negative impact on them. Toddlers can be confusing to parent whether you are in the midst of a divorce or not. Many of them can speak quite well, which might fool us into thinking that they can comprehend much more than they actually do. Their moods can fluctuate wildly at a moment’s notice. They are tiny people who are doing so much learning about the world and about themselves every day.

Caring for toddlers, as you know, takes a great deal of emotional and physical energy. All toddlers, whether their parents are divorcing or not, need a great deal of time with each parent for bonding and attachment. When one parent leaves the home, toddlers can feel abandoned, and can express their feelings of abandonment through regressive, needy behavior. Parents can work together to create a parenting schedule which gives each of them a lot of time with their toddler, so that they can sustain the bonds that they have created and avoid long separations.

All children who live in families who are divorcing must be informed of what will be happening before it happens. Children like to know what to expect, and knowing that a parent will be moving into separate quarters before they actually move can help children prepare for their departure and adjust to the new living situation once it happens. Of course, explanations should be age-appropriate and based upon what you have observed your child’s level of understanding to be. For toddlers, this means simple statements and plenty of reassurance that you and your soon to be former spouse love them, and that the divorce is in no way their fault. Less is often more as far as these conversations go, because toddlers require short and simple communications. Don’t forget to ask them if they have any questions, and to provide honest answers to any questions that they do have.

With toddlers, as with children of any age, it is important that you talk about your feelings about the divorce with other adults, so that you do not find yourself expressing those thoughts and feelings to the kids. Also, it is essential that you refrain from criticizing your child’s other parent in front of them. They love both of you, so if they hear one parent speaking poorly of the other, they may begin to feel hurt and confused.

When you spend time with your toddler, it can be very calming and reassuring for them if you follow their established routines. The same goes for rules and discipline. The positive effect that consistent routines, rules, and discipline can provide for your toddler is well worth the additional effort that may need to go into discussing these topics and agreeing on them with your soon to be former spouse. Morning struggles to get ready and fights at bedtime and mealtime are just a few of the things that can happen less frequently at both your home and the home of your soon to be former spouse when discipline, rules, and routines are consistent.

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 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 Family Law Attorney Talks about Splitting Business Assets in a Mississippi Divorce

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Did you know that spouses do not have to be in business together for each of them to have an interest in a business that one of them owns for the purpose of property division in a divorce case?  Spouses who have not been involved in the operation of a business may be deemed to have contributed to its value in other ways, such as supporting and encouraging the spouse in their business endeavors and caring for the couple’s home and children throughout the course of the marriage.

One high profile divorce case has recently increased public awareness of this issue. Harold Hamm’s divorce case involves a business that is worth billions, and he and his ex-wife disagree on whether the way that the business assets were divided by the divorce court was fair. The ex-wife is appealing the divorce judgment, claiming that she was awarded but a fraction (over ninety million dollars) of the value of the marital estate that the couple created over the course of their twenty-plus year marriage.

In the Hamm case, the husband owned a business before he married his wife. During the marriage, the value of the business increased tremendously. When the couple decided to divorce, the question then became whether the business’s increase in value occurred because of normal market forces or because of Mr. Hamm’s efforts in running the business. If the increase in value could be traced to market forces, the increase would not be considered a marital asset and it would be given to the husband, because he had brought it into the marriage, instead of divided between the parties in a property settlement. If, instead, the rise in value had occurred in large part due to Mr. Hamm’s management of the business, then the increase in the value of the business would be considered a marital asset and would be divided as part of the property distribution.

In Mississippi, if a spouse owns a business interest, that value of that interest will need to be ascertained, and then it will need to be classified as marital property, separate property, or a mixed asset. Since valuation of business interests is not a simple matter, one or both parties may hire business valuation experts to provide professional valuations of the business interest. Whichever portion of a spouse’s business interest is deemed marital property goes into the marital estate, which gets divided equitably among the spouses.

If your Mississippi divorce involves an interest in a business, a skilled Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you to understand how that business interest fits into the bigger picture of your property distribution. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you pursue a property distribution that is aligned with your priorities through the negotiation process, and, if a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, serve as a strong advocate for you in the courtroom. Please call (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Talks about the Validity of Prenuptial Agreements.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The divorce of billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, has taken an unexpected turn. Mr. Griffin initiated the divorce proceedings in July, and Ms. Griffin recently responded to his divorce petition with a request, among other things, that the couple’s 2003 prenuptial agreement be voided.

Ms. Griffin feels as though the prenuptial agreement is void because it was signed under duress. She was not presented with it until shortly before the couple’s lavish wedding was to occur in Versailles in July of 2003. Ms. Griffin states that she was caught off guard by the proposed prenuptial agreement, and that she felt an immense pressure to agree to it immediately because of the impending wedding. To further complicate matters, the couple had been seeing a psychologist who Mr. Griffin, unbeknownst to Ms. Griffin, had been seeing for some time before his wife also became the psychologist’s patient. Ms. Griffin claims that during a therapy session in the weeks before the wedding, the psychologist suggested to her that she should sign the prenuptial agreement. The psychologist’s suggestion, along with the fact that Ms. Griffin was unaware that Mr. Griffin was already a patient of the psychologist, could be construed as a situation which had an undue influence on Ms. Griffin, creating additional pressure to sign the prenup.

If you are considering signing a Mississippi prenuptial agreement, you should take care to ensure that it is valid. One thing that is part of any valid prenuptial agreement is a full disclosure of the values of all of a couple’s assets. Be sure that this is a part of your prenup, and that it does in fact include all of your assets.

The circumstances under which a prenuptial agreement is signed can make or break its validity. If one party can prove that they were essentially forced to sign it, as Ms. Griffin alleges in the example above, the agreement may be declared void.

The best way to ensure the validity of a Mississippi prenuptial agreement is to have separate legal counsel review the proposed agreement with each of you. This will ensure that each of you understands the terms of the agreement, and it gives you the opportunity to negotiate the terms of the agreement if they do not appeal to you exactly as they have been proposed. An attorney will help you to determine whether any of the proposed terms are unenforceable, so that those provisions can be removed from the agreement before it becomes final. Consulting with attorneys about your prenuptial agreement also ensures that the agreement is made in compliance with current Mississippi law.

A prenuptial agreement can be a great way for Mississippi couples to acknowledge their financial situation prior to tying the knot. Working with an experienced Mississippi Family Law Attorney can help you understand the terms of a proposed prenuptial agreement and ensure that it meets all applicable statutory requirements. Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you to create a prenuptial agreement that meets your needs. Call (601) 573-7429 today, to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Discusses What You May Have in Common With Many Professional Athletes

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Did you know that if you are divorced, divorcing, or considering filing for divorce, you have something in common with many professional athletes? You? Yes. You. Marriage woes are not just a problem for regular people like you; they are a problem which is experienced by many professional athletes. In fact, professional athletes are even more prone to divorce than the rest of us are. Their divorce rate is approximated at between sixty and eighty percent, while the rate for the general population remains fairly constant at about fifty percent.

When you consider the lifestyle of a professional athlete, you can see the areas where troubles often arise. Athletes have schedules which are demanding, between the on season, the off season, training, and other obligations. What’s more, those demanding schedules usually involve travel all over America, and, in some cases, all over the world. The travel and work schedule of a professional athlete can make it difficult for them to establish and maintain strong, long-lasting relationships. Even when they own homes and have children, athletes may not get to spend as much time at home as they would like, or as much as their spouses and kids would like them to.

On top of the traveling and the intense schedule, there is the issue of money. Many athletes are well paid, but some of them mismanage their money. Others come into the unfortunate situation of being in marriages where their spouse mismanages their money for them. Even when money is not mismanaged, it can cause stress if couples disagree over what to do with it.

Infidelity is a leading cause of divorce among athletes, and it is easy to see how that can happen. Athletes often have to spend a lot of time away from their spouses and their families. On top of that, adoring fans are practically throwing themselves at them everywhere they go. Temptation is everywhere, and, it can be hard to resist, especially if your peers are also participating in it.

While some of the problems that lead to the divorces of many professional athletes are unique to those who live lives of fame and fortune, other athletes divorce for reasons that may sound rather familiar. Some decide that they married someone who is not compatible with them. Others have grown apart from their spouses. Some have decided that they would be happier to be single than to be in a relationship.

Another way in which your divorce may resemble that of a professional athlete is that whether you are headed for mediation or negotiation, or your case is going to go to trial, there are athletes whose divorces have gone both of those ways. Some have settled outside of court while others have engaged in very expensive, very public court battles. Whether you are an athlete or not, your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can help you to define your goals and pursue a resolution of your divorce case that will help you to meet those goals. To find out how Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you with your divorce, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.

Mississippi Family Law Attorney Offers Tips on Talking With Your Kids About Your Divorce

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

If you feel as though you are going to have more difficulty speaking with your kids about your divorce than you had telling your spouse that the marriage was over, you are not alone. Many parents dread having the “we’re divorcing” conversation with their children, because they fear that they will cause emotional damage while doing so. Parents who do feel this way most likely want to have that conversation in the most gentle and positive manner possible, so as to reassure their children that they are and will always be loved and safe. Since conversations about divorce are difficult for both kids and adults, it is important that you wait to have the conversation until you know for sure that the divorce is going to happen.

Advance preparation is essential for a smooth and successful conversation with the kids about your divorce. If ever there were a conversation that should not be had on the fly, this is it. Since a divorce involves both parents, talk with your spouse ahead of time about how and when the discussion should take place. It is best for both parents to be present during the conversation, so plan to have the conversation at a time that will work for both of you and for all of the children. Be sure to leave enough time for the conversation itself, and for you to address the emotions that arise and the barrage of questions that are likely to ensue following such a major announcement.

Don’t let your spouse off the hook after you have set the time and date for the conversation. Work together to set up ground rules for the conversation, and plan out which topics you will address. At the very least, establish an expectation that you will not blame each other, you will refrain from saying negative things about each other in front of the kids, and, perhaps most importantly, that you will not pressure the kids to take sides. As far as subject matter is concerned, it is best to stick to the basics, and to information that will help the kids understand how the divorce is likely to impact their lives.

When the time comes to have the conversation, follow your game plan. Keep it simple and age appropriate, but be sure to give the kids enough information about how the divorce will affect their day to day lives to help them understand what the future holds. If many things will be remaining the same, as far as daily and weekly routines, do not hesitate to emphasize that because it can help kids to feel secure. By the same token, don’t avoid discussing the ways in which things will be different, because when kids have advance notice of changes that will take place in their lives, they are often better able to process them when they happen. Above all, offer plenty of reassurance that the divorce is between you and your spouse, and that it is in no way about them.

While you and your spouse are the ones who must do the heavy lifting as far as talking to your kids about divorce, your Mississippi Divorce Attorney can take care of many of the details regarding your divorce so that you are free to tend to the needs of your children during this time of transition. To find out how Mississippi Family Law Attorney Matthew S. Poole can help you with your divorce, please call our office today, at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a free consultation.