Category Archives: Divorce

MS Bar Convention; Day 3= “Free Junk”

It’s Day 3 of the MS Bar Convention. This means “summer school” is wrapping up by noon and the vendors/exhibits are being set up!

Starting at noon on the 3rd day, dozens of vendors set up a dizzying array of exhibits. Banks, Insurance, and Legal Research companies are vying for attorney business. And, how do they woo you? Free junk.

Totes, pens, pencils, pop sockets, glasses cloths, zippy pouches, beach balls, frisbees, stress balls, candy, t-shirts, sunglasses, sanitizer, sun screen, hats, note pads, cups, first aid kits, among other items that you cannot possibly live without…

All you have to do is visit with the vendor, make eye contact and sometimes just be standing nearby to gain some loot. A visit to a vendor also gets you in the running for the good stuff.

The good stuff is dealt out via a raffle. You enter it by visiting a certain number of vendors, getting the corresponding sticker or stamp and turning in your card.

These prizes are good; Yeti coolers, RayBans, iPads, drones, remote control doo-dads, gigantic stuffed animals, autographed footballs, and gift cards.

Day 3 also brings on the Welcome Reception. This is a family-friendly event with a kid’s dinner served in a beach pail; hot dogs and chips and such, and there are heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks for the adults. This party always has a theme, usually related to whatever family movie is playing on one end of the ball room.

Attendees mix and mingle and have a good time. Lawyers, Judges and their families from all over the state attend. It really is a fun event.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney and regular attendee of the Mississippi Bar Convention.

Divorce Court vs. Criminal Court

Sometimes divorcing parties act like criminals, but Divorce Court is NOT Criminal Court (typically).

Divorce court, a.k.a. Chancery Court, is a civil court. The Court’s function is to legally divorce parties that are entitled to be divorced and divide property. The Court has the authority to deal with and punish conduct that is violative of its Orders or disruptive conduct that occurs directly in its presence. Other than those instances it is not a punitive Court. You typically are not punished for marital fault…

Criminal court, which can be Circuit, County, Municipal, or Justice, among others, can punish. These Courts have prosecutors whose job is to prove the accused committed a crime/violated a law. The Judge or a jury determines if the matter was proven and a punishment, including; incarceration, fines, and other remedies.

However, sometimes these can relate or overlap. Conduct that could serve as grounds for divorce, such as domestic violence, is also a crime. The Court’s are independent of one another and you can be punished in Criminal Court and divorced in Chancery Court over the same facts.

Interestingly, your right to plead the fifth, invoking the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution can be done in both Courts. While it cannot be used against you in Criminal Court, it can be used to make an adverse inference in Chancery Court. So, if you are accused of adultery/habitual fornication in Criminal Court, which IS a crime in Mississippi, you may invoke the fifth and the prosecutor must prove a violation of the law by beyond a reasonable doubt, however in Divorce Court, while you may invoke the fifth, the Court can treat that as an adverse inference/admission and could find such to be enough to rise to clear and convincing evidence of adultery. Confused yet?

Divorce Court and Criminal Court are different animals, with different standards and different outcomes. However, all are serious and your rights may be infringed if the Court determines they should be.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Court lawyer and encourages those charged with a crime to confer with an experienced Criminal Defense attorney.

60 Days = Divorce?

Sixty days and you are divorced is NOT the law in Mississippi.

§ 93-5-2 – Divorce on ground of irreconcilable differences

“(4) Complaints for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences must have been on file for sixty (60) days before being heard... the provisions of Section 93-5-17 to the contrary notwithstanding.”

60 days is NOT a deadline. It is a minimum, mandatory waiting period. It provides sufficient time for a cooling-off period and typically sufficient time to do all of the things necessary to complete the paperwork required in an Irreconcilable Differences divorce.

You are NOT automatically divorced on day 60 or 61. It means that AFTER 60 days the completed paperwork may be presented to the Chancellor for their review and approval.

Additionally, all of the paperwork does NOT have to be completed before you file and the Court will keep the file open for at least 12 months with no additional activity. This means at any point after the initial filing and 60 days, a divorce may be presented and finalized.

Matthew Thompson is a “No Fault” divorce attorney in Mississippi.