All posts by BowTieLawyer

Matthew operates the Thompson Law Firm, pllc. A Ridgeland, Mississippi based Family Law firm emphasizing; Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Modification, Contempt and Appeals, handling family law cases throughout Mississippi. (601) 850-8000 Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms www.BowTieLawyer.ms

Child Support; What you Owe

Mississippi Code Section § 43-19-101 specifically details the Child Support Award guidelines.

Number Of Children              Percentage Of Adjusted Gross Income   
1                                                             14%
2                                                            20%
3                                                            22%
4                                                            24%
5 or more                                        26%

Basically you take your gross income for the year and subtract state and federal taxes, and mandatory deductions.  This leaves you with your adjusted gross income. Divide this amount by 12.  This equals your monthly adjusted gross income.  Multiply this number by the appropriate percentage and that is the amount of child support you owe.  For example. Let’s say that you make $3,250 per month, gross. First, deduct state and federal taxes, Social Security and Medicare. (State $125, Federal $200, Soc Sec. $180, Medicare $47 = $552.00 in deductions.) $3,250.00 – 552.00= $2,698.00.  Multiply this by 14%.  $2,698.00 x .14= $377.72  Your monthly obligation is $380 in child support.

Below is the paraphrased statute and includes more detailed information for child support calculations.
The amount of “adjusted gross income” as that term is used in subsection (1) of this section shall be calculated as follows:
  1)  Determine gross income

What is counted towards “gross income” income for child support purposes?

  • wages and salary income;
  • income from self employment;
  • income from commissions;
  • income from investments, including dividends, interest income and income on any trust account or property;
  • absent parent’s portion of any joint income of both parents;
  • workers’ compensation, disability, unemployment, annuity and retirement benefits, including an individual retirement account (IRA);
  • any other payments made by any person, private entity, federal or state government or any unit of local government;
  • alimony;
  • any income earned from an interest in or from inherited property;
  • any other form of earned income; and
  • (Not to be Counted) However, gross income shall exclude any monetary benefits derived from a second household, such as income of the absent parent’s current spouse;

2) Subtract the following legally mandated deductions:

  • Federal, state and local taxes;
  • Social security contributions;
  • Retirement and disability contributions (except any voluntary retirement and disability contributions* and most are voluntary*);
  • If the absent parent is subject to an existing court order for another child or children, subtract the amount of that court-ordered support;
  •  If the absent parent is also the parent of another child or other children residing with him, then the court may subtract an amount that it deems appropriate to account for the needs of said child or children;

3) Compute the total annual amount of adjusted gross income based on the above,

4) Divide this amount by twelve (12) to obtain the monthly amount of adjusted gross income.

5)  Multiply the monthly amount of adjusted gross income by the appropriate percentage

**The statute applies in cases in which the adjusted gross income as defined in this section is more than  One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($ 100,000.00) or less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($ 10,000.00), the court shall make a written finding in the record as to whether or not the application of the guidelines established in this section is reasonable.** (The figures above were changed by the MS legislature in the 2013 session from $5k-$50k, the above figures are the current amounts)

What else is included over and above child support?

6) All orders involving support of minor children, as a matter of law, shall include reasonable medical support. Notice to the obligated parent’s employer that medical support has been ordered shall be on a form as prescribed by the Department of Human Services. In any case in which the support of any child is involved, the court shall make the following findings either on the record or in the judgment:

(a) The availability to all parties of health insurance coverage for the child(ren);
(b) The cost of health insurance coverage to all parties.

The court shall then make appropriate provisions in the judgment for the provision of health insurance coverage for the child(ren) in the manner that is in the best interests of the child(ren). If the court requires the custodial parent to obtain the coverage then its cost shall be taken into account in establishing the child support award. If the court determines that health insurance coverage is not available to any party or that it is not available to either party at a cost that is reasonable as compared to the income of the parties, then the court shall make specific findings as to such either on the record or in the judgment. In that event, the court shall make appropriate provisions in the judgment for the payment of medical expenses of the child(ren) in the absence of health insurance coverage.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and encourages you to have an attorney review your support obligations annually.

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 Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

img_6390

What to do when your Differences Cannot be Reconciled?

Irreconcilable Differences (“ID divorce”) is Mississippi’s answer to the NO FAULT* divorce.  Mississippi is not a true NO FAULT state. In MS both parties must agree to the divorce and to all the terms of the divorce, including ALL issues of child custody, child support, equitable distribution (how MS divides your stuff) and alimony, if any.  Every issue has to be agreed upon to gain an ID divorce***.  If ALL can be agreed upon, an ID divorce is just about the quickest and least expensive way to get a divorce in MS.

Stuart Miles/free digitalphotos.net
The basic process is;

1) File a Joint Complaint for Divorce (begins the 60 day waiting period**),

2) Exchange Financial Statements (called an 8.05),

3) Draft and sign an Agreement stating all of the details of who gets what, and who pays what (called a Property Settlement Agreement or PSA),

4) Draft and sign a Final Judgment (the actual divorce), and finally

5) Present all to the Judge for approval.

The Judge will review the Filings, Financial Statements and Agreement, and if the judge finds it “adequate and sufficient” will sign off.   Upon the signed Final Judgment being filed and recorded by the clerk- You are DIVORCED.

Well that is fine, but what if we thought we could agree and now we cannot? What can I do then?

Either party can prevent an ID divorce by;

1) Not agreeing;

2) Not signing anything;

3) Filing on Fault;

4) Filing a Notice of Withdrawal of Consent.

An ID divorce is the most often granted type of divorce in Mississippi and even most fault based divorces are converted into an ID divorce.  The benefit to an ID divorce is that it does not require adversarial positions to be taken in Court and it gives you, the parties, the ability to agree and have the say in the outcome of your situation.  Anything that could be had in a fault based divorce can likewise be achieved in an ID divorce, with the sole exception of having the divorce granted on fault.

* In a NO FAULT state either party can secure the divorce regardless if the other party agrees . In the event they cannot agree the Court can divide the property.

** The 60 day waiting period is the minimum time that the parties to an ID divorce must wait. It is designed as a cooling off period.

*** There is also the possibility of a hybrid situation where you and your spouse can agree on the divorce and agree to let the Judge decide the issues that you cannot agree upon.  This technique, however, has its risks and should not be gone into lightly and certainly not without consultation of an attorney.

Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

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

black-bow

Alienation of Affection; Adultery that gets you Sued!

We learned last week that Adultery may be a crime in Mississippi. To recap; adultery can get you divorced and adultery can get you arrested, but did you also know that adultery can get you sued for money?! It’s the triple whammy.  And don’t think you are immune because you are the paramour (the b/f or g/f).

Alienation of Affection (AOA) is known as a common law tort.  A tort is a civil wrong, as opposed to a criminal wrong.  It is a legal remedy available, not by statute, but due to case law history and an equitable claim whose intent is to protect marriages.  AOA allows the wronged spouse to sue the “significant other” of the guilty spouse for the breakdown of the marriage.  There are only 6 states in the country that still recognize AOA, but Mississippi is one of them and as recently as the 1990’s our Courts have refused to abolish this tort when it had the chance, reaffirming its place in the Mississippi legal system.

So what is AOA?

The elements are 1) Wrongful Conduct (ie: adultery, though not required), 2) loss of affections, and 3) a causal connection.  All 3 must be present for a viable claim.  There is a 3 year statute of limitations in which to bring the claim, beginning when the loss of affection is finally accomplished.

*As an aside, North Carolina has AOA and a separate tort called “criminal conversation” which only requires proof of sex with a married person for the “significant other” to be liable for damages.  It does not require loss of affections or a causal connection or even a real relationship.

So what is the take away here?  Just because you are not married does not mean you have no culpability in an affair.  You will  be a necessary witness in the divorce case and stand a chance of getting sued yourself for AOA.  And if you go to North Carolina, you better behave.