Category Archives: Marriage

Ringing In Valentine’s Day; Who gets the Ring when things go Wrong?

Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to get engaged!  Along with Christmas and New Years, Valentine’s Day is the holiday for popping the question.  But who gets the RING if things don’t pan out?

In Mississippi, the ring is a pre-marriage gift.  It can be argued that the ring is actually a conditional gift creating a contractual obligation.  How Romantic!

Here’s the scenario.  An offer of marriage is proposed and a ring given in exchange for a “Yes,” being an agreement to marry.  So long as both parties uphold their end; the fellow gives the ring and the lady marries the fellow = offer + acceptance & valuable consideration.  At this point the contract is fulfilled and the rings is now the property of the lady.  But what if they were only married for a minute?  Well, if they married the contract is fulfilled.  Certainly, there could be exceptions due to fraud or overreaching, but these are not typical.

The chancellor properly concluded that the engagement ring was a gift from [the fellow] to [the lady]. That gift necessarily predated the marriage of the parties. Thus, it was an asset brought by [the lady] into the marriage and was not a marital asset subject to equitable division. MacDonald v. MacDonald, 698 So.2d 1079 (¶ 13) (Miss.1997). It was, therefore, beyond the chancellor’s authority to order [the lady]  to return possession of that item to [the fellow] and the refusal to do so cannot constitute reversible error on appeal.  Neville v. Neville, 734 So.2d 352 (Ms.App. 1997).

Want to be safe, legally speaking anyway? Then make your marriage proposal contingent, as follows*:

 “Dearest One,

I love you and desire to marry you.   As a symbol of same, I am making a wholly contingent offer to you of this ring, of significant monetary and sentimental value, but a likewise sizable lien against same, in exchange for your promise to marry me. In the event that we do NOT get married, then said ring shall be returned to me in the same condition as presented, or alternatively you may elect to assume said lien, in full, for said ring and shall indemnify and defend me from any liability thereon.  ‘Will you accept this rose?'” *(a paraphrase of colleague J. Kitchens)

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that you can engage in the event you need a divorce, and if you use the above contingent marriage proposal, you just might!

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Common Law Marriage is NOT so Common.

You live with someone for seven years, holding yourselves out as Mr. and Mrs., makes it legal, right? No.  What about 10 years, 20 years? Nope.

In 1956 the Mississippi legislature ended Common Law Marriage in Mississippi, or at least NEW Common Law Marriages within the State.  Mississippi Code § 93-1-15 was passed that required a License and solemnization for a valid marriage.

   (1) No marriage contracted after April 5, 1956 shall be valid unless the contracting parties shall have obtained a marriage license … and …shall have been performed …solemniz[ation].  Failure in any case to comply with both prerequisites …shall render the purported marriage absolutely void and any children born as a result thereof illegitimate.

(2) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to affect the validity of any marriage, either ceremonial or common law, contracted prior to April 5, 1956.

Now if your Common Law Marriage was valid prior to 1956 in Mississippi and you and the Mrs. are still alive and together, then your marriage is valid.  Interestingly, if you have a valid Common Law Marriage from another state Mississippi will also recognize that.  16 states still recognize Common Law Marriage according to Find Law and in the 1980’s Mississippi recognized a Common Law Marriage of a couple from Georgia.  They eventually relocated to Mississippi and the wife sought and was granted a divorce.  George v. George, 389 So.2d 1389 (Miss. 1980).

Don’t count on a Common Law Marriage for marital purposes, and don’t believe your “spouse” if they tell you you’re married and you have not followed the State licensure requirements.

Matthew is a family law attorney and was married using the post 1956 Mississippi methods.   

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

The Top 5 Lies of Divorce Clients

There is an old lawyer joke… How do you tell when your client is lying to you?  When their lips are moving.  Lying to your lawyer is a really bad idea for multiple reasons.  It is primarily bad because advice can change based on the facts of your circumstance and if we, as the lawyer, do not know the facts our advice may not be right.  And the whole perjury thing is bad too.  Without further ado, here are the top 5 lies that clients tell.

  • 5.  Lies about Income.  
  • Clients that make a lot of money often understate their income.  Also, I have had clients say they make more than they do, I guess because of embarrassment.  It is a really bad idea to lie about income regardless of the reason.  The other party has the right to get pay records directly from your bank or employer and lying about making more than you do can result in you paying more than you owe.
  • 4.  Lies about their role within the Home.  
  • The husband comes in and says he does all of the cooking, cleaning, child rearing and otherwise paints himself as Martha Stewart, when he is more like Haagar the Horrible.  Out pillaging, but not big on household chores.  This matters because it effects the division of assets and has custody and alimony applications.
  • 3.  Lies about Other Marital Fault.
  • #3 is other marital fault because it is saving room for #1.  But this means that the client tells you about how awful the other party was.  How they were attacked or provoked and only reacted and defended themselves.  They “forgot” to mention the domestic violence conviction and the meth lab in the garage.  Oops.
  • 2.  Lies about Value$.
  • In a similar vein to lies about income, clients understate the value of investments, collectibles and businesses.  This can be very significant and a husband that misled the Court about the value of his privately owned business resulted in the wife coming back after the fact and getting more value when he had a falling out with a business partner.  Also, that 1953 Chevrolet Coupe is worth more than you are saying it is.
  • 1.  Lies about Adultery.
  • #1 for a reason.  It’s hard to admit when you are wrong.  By the way, “I didn’t have an affair, it was just a one-night stand,” is still an affair. It is adultery.  Lying about this can bumfoozle a legal strategy of trying to prevent the divorce.   If the other party has grounds against you and wants a divorce they can get it.  If you lie about it chances are you will eventually be caught.

These are just some of the lies told everyday.  It is important to tell your lawyer the truth, including the dirty details. It can make a difference in your case.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Attorney in Mississippi and encourages potential clients to tell your lawyer the truth!

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