This edition, in addition to bedrock family law principles, includes statutory and case law updates regarding jurisdiction, alimony, equitable division, business valuation, contempt, attorney fees, visitation, custody and de facto marriage concerns. It also includes updated, revised and new forms.
I have written about when you do NOT get to keep the ring. The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed a time when you do…
In the case of Cummins v. Goolsby, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the “fiancee” keeping the ring even though the parties did not get married. However, there was a catch. The groom-to-be was married to another at the time of the engagement!
In fact at the time of the appeal, the groom-to-be was still married. The Court’s rationale was that conditioning a gift on marriage when one cannot lawfully marry violates public policy and constitutes unclean hands. Thus, the chancellor did not err when awarding the ring to the now “ex-fiancee.”
Also, the Court ruled that the groom-to-be now father, was not entitled to a credit of the value of the ring against child support owed for the child he had with his “ex-fiancee.”
There are several lessons to be learned from this case…
Matthew Thompson is a child custody and matrimonial lawyer in Mississippi.
Parties in a lawsuit have a lot of latitude to agree to settlement terms. This is certainly true in divorce. Virtually everything is negotiable and if an agreement can be reached, usually it will be approved by the Court.
However, to be an enforceable agreement it must be approved by the Court. Until such time as your agreement is reduced to writing, signed and approved by the Court, it is on iffy ground as to enforceability issues. While some issues may be contracted without Court approval in a family law case, such as property division and alimony, some issues can not be enforced absent Court approval, such as child custody related terms.
Likewise, “changing” your Court papers without Court approval is dicey. Swapping out a holiday here or a week there is not usually a big deal, but changing payment terms, amounts, or duration can lead to serious consequences if done without Court approval. Child support vests as it comes due and absent exigent circumstances cannot be forgiven.
An agreement to agree is no agreement at all.
Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney and reminds you to have your Agreement approved by the Court in an Order.