Marital Property; How it’s Divided.

“What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.”

Sometimes splitting property in a divorce feels like this infamous quote!

Mississippi is an Equitable Distribution state, NOT a Community Property state.  The main difference is that Mississippi Court’s have discretion from requiring a 50/50 split in every circumstance.  In fact, Equitable Distribution means “fair, but not necessarily 50/50.”  I have previously touched on division of stuff in Fighting Over Furniture.

To determine what is fair, a number of factors are used called the Ferguson Factors.

“Therefore, this Court directs the chancery courts to evaluate the division of marital assets by the following guidelines and to support their decisions with findings of fact and conclusions of law for purposes of appellate review. Although this listing is not exclusive, this Court suggests the chancery courts consider the following guidelines, where applicable, when attempting to effect an equitable division of marital property:

  1. Substantial contribution to the accumulation of the property (Mopping it Up in a Divorce, click for explanation).  Factors to be considered in determining contribution are as follows:
      • Direct or indirect economic contribution to the acquisition of the property;  
      • Contribution to the stability and harmony of the marital and family relationships as measured by quality, quantity of time spent on family duties and duration of the marriage; and
      • Contribution to the education, training or other accomplishment bearing on the earning power of the spouse accumulating the assets.
  2. The degree to which each spouse has expended, withdrawn or otherwise disposed of marital asset(Marital Waste; Don’t Spend Money on Your Girlfriend). and any prior distribution of such assets by agreement, decree or otherwise.
  3. The market value and the emotional value of the assets(Sentimental Value can be Valuable)  subject to distribution.
  4. The value of assets not ordinarily, absent equitable factors to the contrary, subject to such distribution (Sentimental Value can be Valuable), such as property brought to the marriage by the parties and property acquired by inheritance or inter vivos gift by or to an individual spouse;
  5. Tax and other economic consequences, and contractual or legal consequences to third parties, of the proposed distribution;
  6. The extent to which property division may, with equity to both parties, be utilized to eliminate periodic payments and other potential sources of future friction between the parties;
  7. The needs of the parties for financial security with due regard to the combination of assets, income and earning capacity; and,
  8. Any other factor which in equity should be considered.

Ferguson v. Ferguson, 639 So.2d 291 (Miss. 1994).

In a series of future blogs a small discussion of each factor will be posted, and linked back to this post.  The first step is knowing these factors.  How the Court applies the specific facts of your situation to these factors determines who gets what.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and wants you to end up with your Stuff!

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or


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