The attorneys at Wheeler and Franks realize that dealing with domestic legal issues can be scary and overwhelming. These cases often involve very sensitive and emotional issues that will have lasting consequences in our clients' lives. We take this responsibility very seriously and work hard to achieve the best outcome possible for our clients. If you, a friend or family member are involved in or need counsel for any of the issues listed below, please feel free to contact our office and speak with our experienced staff and attorneys.
The law considers marriage a civil contract in which each party agrees to certain rights and obligations. When a marriage fails, divorce is the judicial decree which legally ends the relationship.
Mississippi law provides several legal methods for a couple to divorce. A no-fault divorce occurs when a couple agrees to divorce and to the settlement of such issues as child custody and support, alimony, and property division. If one spouse sues the other to end the marriage, the plaintiff bases the suit on one of the 12 divorce grounds allowed by state law, and the court decides whether to grant the divorce.
Desertion is a spouse's willful abandonment of the marriage for at least one year without consent, just cause, excuse, or intention to return. Desertion can occur under the same roof, if the spouses live as strangers and the deserter intends to end the marriage. The deserted spouse must demonstrate that he/she did not consent to the leaving and that a willingness to renew the relationship was refused by the deserting partner. However, if the deserting spouse makes a good faith offer to return and the other spouse refuses, the refusing party usually becomes the deserter.
Natural impotency, insanity or idiocy, and a wife's pregnancy by another person at the time of the marriage are pre-existing conditions that are grounds for divorce in Mississippi. In these cases, the innocent spouse must not have known of the condition prior to the marriage.
Adultery, custody to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, incurable insanity that develops after marriage, habitual drunkenness, habitual and excessive drug use, and habitual cruel and inhuman treatment are grounds for divorce because of the impact those actions or conditions have on the marriage. The grounds of habitual drunkenness and habitual and excessive drug use require clear and convincing evidence that the offending spouse is a habitual drunk or drug user and such conduct has a negative impact on the marriage, rendering him or her irresponsible, reckless, unfit, and unable to perform marital duties and responsibilities.
Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, the most common fault ground, is conduct that endangers life, limb, or health, or creates a reasonable apprehension of such danger. It also applies to conduct of such unnatural or infamous nature to make the marital relationship revolting to the innocent spouse. To divorce on these grounds, the spouse must prove such conduct occurred over a period of time and was physical in nature (i.e., beatings) or had an adverse physical effect on him or her.
Bigamy and incest are two other grounds for divorce in Mississippi. Only the innocent spouse, not the one married to more than one person, may use bigamy as grounds. Mississippi law defines the types of relationships considered incestuous and, therefore, restricted from marriage.
To file for divorce in Mississippi, you must be a resident of the state for at least six months. An irreconcilable differences divorce requires a 60-day waiting period, assuming the spouses resolve all issues within that time and the court has approved the property settlement agreement. The other grounds have no particular waiting period, but the other spouse must receive notification at least 30 days prior to trial. If the wife is pregnant when the divorce is filed, the court usually postpones the case until the child is born in order to address child support issues.
Divorce is a sad and emotional process for all involved. Regardless of the grounds for divorce, each spouse should have an attorney to ensure that each person's rights are upheld and best interests represented.
Did you know that in Mississippi when a Chancellor determines who will receive custody of a child, they will apply the Albright factors? These factors are:
• The age of the child;
• The health of the child;
• The sex of the child;
• The parent that has had the continuity of care prior t• The separation;
• The parenting skills of each parent;
• The parent that has the willingness and capacity to provide primary child care;
• The employment of each parent and the responsibilities of that employment;
• The physical and mental health of the parents;
• The emotional ties between parent and child;
• The moral fitness of the parents;
• The home, school and community record of the child;
• The preference of a child of the age sufficient to express a preference by law (12 years of age or older);
• The stability of the home environment and employment of each parent; and
• The other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship
Albright v. Albright,
437 So. 2d 1003, 1005 (Miss. 1983)
To determine whether or not to award alimony or spousal support, Mississippi Chancellors must consider several factors called the Armstrong factors. These factors are:
1. the income and expenses of the parties;
2. the health and earning capacity of the parties;
3. the needs of each party;
4. the obligations and assets of each party;
5. the length of the marriage;
6. the presence and absence of minor children in the home, which may require that one or both of the parties either pay, or personally provide child care;
7. the age of the parties;
8. the standard of living of the parties, both during the marriage and at the time of the support determination;
9. the tax consequences of the spousal support order;
10. any fault or misconduct;
11. wasteful dissipation of the assets by either party;
12. any other factor deemed by the court to be "just and equitable" in connection with the setting of spousal support
Armstrong v. Armstrong,
618 So. 2d 1278, 1280 (Miss. 1993).
At Wheeler and Franks, we understand the adoption process changes the lives of everyone involved, including the adoptive parents, the birth mother and the adopted child. For most, adoption will be the biggest decision of their lives. It is for that reason our attorneys feel very privileged to focus on easing the adoption process. If you are looking to adopt, or a birth parent making the decision to have another family raise your child, please contact our office to set up an appointment.
The preparation of a Will is vitally important for making your final wishes known. It is not only important to have a Will, but also to periodically review your Will to make sure it comports with your current wishes. For instance, your current Will may leave some or all of your Estate to a spouse who has since deceased.
Also, Estate Planning tools are critical from a financial planning standpoint. Appropriate Estate Planning can save you and your loved ones substantial sums of money. The law provides prudent individuals a number of tools to preserve and pass down one's wealth. Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Please contact our office to set up an appointment to discuss your will or plan your estate.
At Wheeler and Franks, we understand that today's families and their elderly increasingly encounter legal and practical issues surrounding long term care and support. We assist clients in establishing guardianships and conservatorships to provide assistance to those who are unable to independently manage their financial and personal matters. By planning properly, we allow individuals to predetermine medical and financial decisions and thus alleviate the burden of difficult choices and anxiety for family members. We achieve success when protections are put into place so that the disabled person's needs, both personal and financial, are met for the rest of their lives.