With more than 39 years of legal experience to draw upon, as well as personal experience with divorce and child custody matters, I can help you every step of the way. In addition, Mississippi does not have “legal separation.” However, if one spouse leaves the other without good cause, the remaining spouse may pursue an action for spousal maintenance (alimony).
Filing For Divorce
In order to get a no-fault divorce in Mississippi, both parties must agree to the divorce in writing. Otherwise you must prove that there are grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce in Mississippi are:
- Natural impotency
- Being sentenced to the penitentiary and not being pardoned before being sent there
- Willful, continued and obstinate desertion for the space of one year
- Habitual drunkenness
- Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine, or other similar drugs
- Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment
- Insanity or idiocy at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of such infirmity
- Marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties
- Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of the pregnancy
- Either party may have a divorce if they are related to each other within the degree of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law
- Incurable insanity
Divorce and Property Division
The courts will look at what you contributed to the marriage when deciding how to divide marital assets. That contribution does not always have to be financial. Staying home to take care of children, etc. is also a contribution.
You need to bring me a list of all marital property and financial assets that are owned by you or your spouse. In particular, you should note which property was accumulated during the course of your marriage. Also, bring a list of marital debts. These will also be divided. If this is a military divorce, it will affect the division of retirement benefits.
Spousal and Child Support
A dependent spouse may need financial help to get back on her or his feet after a divorce. This is the purpose of spousal support (alimony). Spousal support is not automatically granted by the court. The need for support must be proven. If it is granted, it is often temporary. We can discuss your specific situation and the need for support at our first meeting.
There are a number of protections that apply to and protect service members under military law, including the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Relief Act, which protects them from lawsuits while on active duty. This law and several important factors must be considered by an attorney working with parties to a military divorce.
Legal Questions in Military Divorce
- Jurisdiction: The state in which the case is filed is the state that will have jurisdiction over child custody matters.
- Child Custody and Child Support: Support payments by the service member need to be set at an amount that the service member can pay whether he or she is on active duty or has been discharged.
- Spousal Support: Stay-at-home parents are often entitled to spousal support.
Child custody is a very emotional issue for many couples. I have been in your shoes more than once. I have personally been involved in child custody battles. I know what it takes to fight a child custody case in Mississippi family court.
Factors the Court Considers When Granting Child Custody
Mississippi child custody law has been significantly shaped by the case of Albright v. Albright. In that case, the court looked at eight factors when determining the placement of a child in a custody dispute. These included:
- Parenting ability
- Gender and health of the child
- Which parent has a willingness and capacity to provide care, and continuity of care (who had more child-rearing responsibility prior to the separation)
- Employment of parents and how that employment would affect care of the child
- Physical and mental health of each parent, as well as age
- Emotional ties between the child and each parent
- Stability of the home and community
- Moral fitness of the parent (however, moral issues play a less important role than in the past, particularly with regard to adultery)
Local Counsel for Clients Outside Mississippi
If you live in another state but your child lives in Mississippi with his or her other parent, you will need to bring your custody case in Mississippi family courts and you will need local counsel to assist you with that. I have assisted many out-of-state professionals seeking full custody or increased visitation with the child.
International Child Custody
I am also able to assist clients involved in international child custody disputes. If your child was removed from the U.S. by the other parent, your case will involve complex issues involving the Hague convention.
Child Relocation Cases
In Mississippi, there is no state statute that prohibits a parent with custody from moving out of town or out of state. The parent is required to notify the court of a change of address but does not need to get permission from the court or the other parent in order to move.
Representative Divorce Cases
Albright V. Albright, 437 So.2d 1003 (Miss. 1983) is the key case dealing with decisions as far as who should have custody of a child. The synopsis and listing of the criteria are as follows:
We reaffirm the rule that the polestar consideration in child custody cases is the best interest and welfare of the child. The age of the child is subordinated to that rule and is but one factor to be considered. Age should carry no greater weight than other factors to be considered, such as health and sex of a child, a determination of the parent who had the continuity of care prior to the separation, and much more.