Changes in Family Law Coming?? (for Mississippi)

Word on the street is that some changes are coming in family law in Mississippi…

Possible changes include;

Changing the age of majority from 21 to 19.

This change involves the time period a non-custodial parent would have to provide child support and certain other child related benefits. It could impact health insurance, extra curricular expenses and school expenses- unrelated to college. The vast majority of other states is 18 or 19 years of age- for age of majority.

Another change is adding a ground for divorce if your marriage is irretrievably broken.

Irretrievable breakdown means that the marriage is broken beyond repair, this quasi-no-fault ground tells a court that at least one spouse wants to end the marriage, which generally should be enough for a judge to grant a divorce.

This is a potentially significant change and would align Mississippi divorce law with 48 other states. This change would significantly streamline the current fault vs. consent requirements.

In June of 2021, the Mississippi Legislature established this task force to study Mississippi’s domestic relations laws and to develop recommendations to the Legislature and the Mississippi Supreme Court to recommend needed changes in MS Family Law.

Members of the task force included;

• Senate Judiciary A Chairman Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula and House Judicial A Chairman Angela Cockerham of Magnolia;
• Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland, Chancellor Troy Odom of Brandon and Chancellor Jennifer Schloegel of Gulfport, appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph;
• Court of Appeals Judge David Neil McCarty of Jackson, appointed by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes;
• attorneys Mark A. Chinn of Jackson, Donna S. Smith of Columbus, A. Regnal Blackledge of Collins and Diandra Hosey of Jackson, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• attorney guardians ad litem Melissa B. DiFatta of Pascagoula and Lee Ann Turner of Starkville, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• Division of Child Support Enforcement Senior Attorney J. Michael McCauley of Bay St. Louis, appointed by Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Robert
G. Anderson;
• Professor Deborah Bell of Oxford, Senior Faculty in Service at the University of Mississippi School of Law, appointed by Dean Susan Duncan;
• Professor Shirley Kennedy of Jackson, Director of the Family and Children’s Law Center and Director of Child Advocacy Programs at Mississippi College School of Law, appointed by Dean Patricia Bennett.

Kudos to this fine group of lawyers, judges and academia for much needed changes in MS law.

Matthew Thompson is a family law and defense attorney in Mississippi and welcomes common sense changes in family law.

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