Jackson, Mississippi Divorce Lawyer: Building The Future You Deserve
For Mississippi residents, divorce can be a defining moment in a life. How you handle it and what you are able to get out of it can reshape your life for years to come. This is why it is essential that you are able to make the right choices for you. Working with a skilled and experienced divorce lawyer can help you see the path toward the life you want to build, not just how to leave the life that is no longer working for you.
We help people identify the future they want and then we begin building a strategy to help them secure that future, addressing:
Divorce in Mississippi
Divorce Mississippi is the termination of a marriage and the cancelling or reorganizing of the legal duties and responsibilities of a marital union under the rule of law. Like marriage, divorce in the United States is under the jurisdiction of state governments. It is a legal process in which a judge or other authority dissolves the bonds of matrimony existing between two persons, thus restoring them to the status of being “single” and permitting them to marry other individuals.
It is commonly believed that half of all marriages in the U.S. eventually end in divorce, an estimate that is likely based on the fact that in any given year, the number of marriages in the country is about twice the number of divorces. However, there is a great deal of disagreement about the accuracy of this number, and different studies that use different data sets and different types of public records have reached differing conclusions. Another metric on U.S. divorces measures the number of people who divorce, per year, per 1,000 people in the country. By this measure, the divorce rate peaked at 5.3 divorces per 1,000 people in 1981. It was 4.0 in 2000, and by 2014, the rate was down to 3.2 per 1,000 total population.
The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault Divorce
Though divorce laws vary between jurisdictions, there are two basic approaches to divorce: fault based and no-fault based. In Mississippi, no-fault divorce can be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences. Neither party is held responsible for the failure of the marriage. On the other hand, in a fault-based divorce, one party is asking for a divorce because of a claim that the other party did something wrong that justifies ending the marriage.
Up until 1953, when the no-fault divorce revolution began in Oklahoma, most states required proof by one party that the other party had committed an act incompatible to the marriage. Today, no-fault divorce is available in all 50 states. However, in some states, the courts may still take into account the fault of the parties when determining some aspect of the content of the divorce decree – its terms for the division of property and debts, and, if applicable, the amount of spousal support and child support.
No Fault or Non-Contested Divorce in Mississippi
In Mississippi, the law provides several legal methods for a couple to divorce. A no-fault, or non-contested divorce occurs when a couple agrees to the divorce and to the settlement of such issues as child custody and support, alimony, and property division. Couples sign a Joint Complaint for Divorce which is filed with the Chancery Clerk’s office after paying a modest filing fee. A waiting period of 60 days occurs before the case can go before a judge who will approve the agreement and issue a Final Judgment, granting the divorce. In the event a couple cannot agree on everything, the couple may proceed with getting a non-contested divorce while presenting evidence and testimony on the issues they cannot agree on for the judge to decide. For example, if a couple agrees on everything other than which parent gets custody of the children, then they may have a trial on this issue of child custody and let the judge decide that issue before the divorce is finalized.
The Uniform Chancery Court Rules in Mississippi also require financial declarations from each spouse which expressly lists the spouse’s income, monthly expenses, assets, and liabilities. These financial declarations can be quite tedious and daunting to complete, as they are usually around 8-10 pages long. The spouses must exchange these financial declarations with each other or their respective attorneys. In some rare cases, the court will allow the couple to waive the requirement of completing the tedious financial declarations.
Fault-Based or Contested Divorce in Mississippi
The second way to get a divorce in Mississippi is to file for a fault-based divorce. MCA § 93-5-1 lists and defines the “grounds” for a fault based divorce in Mississippi. A divorce may be awarded based upon:
- Adultery (Does not require proof of sexual intercourse – adultery can be proven if it is shown that the offending party had the inclination and opportunity to consummate an adulterous relationship.)
- Incarceration (A criminal conviction resulting in jail time.)
- Willful, continued and obstinate desertion for at least a year (Desertion can occur under the same roof, if the spouses live as strangers.)
- Habitual drunkenness
- Habitual drug use
- Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment
- Incurable insanity that develops after marriage (The party with mental illness must have been under regular treatment for mental illness and confined in an institution for persons with mental illness for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the commencement of the divorce action.)
- Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage if the husband did not know of such pregnancy.
- Idiocy (Having mental illness or an intellectual disability at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of that infirmity.)
In Mississippi, the most commonly used fault grounds are adultery, desertion, and habitual cruel and inhuman treatment. It is important to note that only the “injured party” can file for divorce on a fault ground. This means, for example, that if a wife committed adultery, the husband is the injured party and only he can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. The spouse alleging fault has to prove it in court at trial. If the injured party cannot prove the grounds for divorce, a judge can deny the petition.
Connivance and Condonation Defense
There are various defenses that are employed in contested divorce cases. One is showing the court that the injured party did not prove his or her case for the particular ground. Another defense is connivance – for example, alleging that the injured party suing on the grounds of adultery consented to and/or participated in the infidelity. Unlike connivance, condonation does not require that the complaining spouse participated in the offense, only that he or she knew about it, forgave the conduct, and resumed marital relations with the offending spouse.
Recrimination is the existence of equal fault or similar conduct between the two spouses. If, for instance, both the husband and wife have been having extra-marital affairs, neither can sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery since they are both guilty of the offense. Provocation is when the actions and behavior of one party incite another party to react in a certain way. Collusion occurs when both spouses agree to fabricate grounds for divorce.
Does Your Divorce Involve Substantial Assets Or Property?
Substantial assets and property can either be brought into or accumulate during a marriage. The division of property during a divorce can create very unfair results if you do not have representation that understands how to deal with issues such as the proper valuation for a small business or extensive property holdings. Our firm has extensive experience helping ensure people are able to achieve their goals in regard to the division of property.
If You Are Considering Divorce, Consult and Experienced Attorney for Assistance
Divorce is often a sad and emotionally draining process for all involved. However, regardless of the grounds for a contested divorce, each spouse should have a competent attorney to ensure that his or her rights are upheld and best interests represented. Even in a no-fault divorce, the advice of counsel can help couples come to mutually satisfying agreements. Further, it is a very difficult and long legal process to modify a judgment of divorce once it is entered, which is why it is important for a spouse to have an attorney representing his or her interests when the divorce is granted.
The Attorneys You Need In Your Corner: Contact our Office to Schedule a Consultation
At Maley & Nicholas, our firm has the experience and expertise to represent our clients’ needs through amicable negotiations or at court. If you are contemplating a divorce, call our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney. We will help you navigate the process and assist you with all divorce-related issues, including:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Spousal support/alimony
- Equitable distribution of property
At Maley & Nicholas, PLLC, we understand the value that our clients place on our ability to fight for them effectively. Divorce can be a difficult and trying time. We are strong advocates for our clients, and we fight to protect their best interests at all stages of the divorce process. With more than 10 years of combined experience, we are able to navigate the process for our clients to help them come through the process as well situated as possible.
Serving Jackson And The Surrounding Areas
Let us help you build the future you want for yourself. Turn to Maley & Nicholas, PLLC, for the skilled help you need. To schedule a consultation, call 601-981-2100 or contact us online.