Category Archives: Marriage

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.   

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

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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Condoning Bad Behavior; Losing Grounds for Divorce

They cheated! You found out…you TRIED to work it out, but the trust has been broken and you just cannot get over it.  You decide you have no choice but to file a suit for adultery.  You’ll get your fair share and move on. Right? Not so fast…

In Mississippi, to be awarded a Divorce, you have to either have Fault Grounds(click) against your spouse, that can be proven, or you and your spouse have to agree to ALL issues in the divorce, via Irreconcilable Differences(click). (All issues must be agreed; the divorce, itself, who gets what, who pays what, everything has to be agreed).

Additionally, in Mississippi, there are Defenses to a Divorce.  A Defense can be used to prevent the Divorce. One of those Defenses is Condonation.

Condonation is “legal forgiveness.”  This happens when the aggrieved spouse knows of the fault, in this example an affair, and decides to reconcile with the other party, when you TRIED to work it out.

Once the aggrieved party makes that decision to reconcile and the parties resume, or continue cohabitation, and resume marital relations (sex) the aggrieved party has legally forgiven the guilty party.  So what does that mean?  There are no longer grounds for divorce based upon adultery.

There are a few catches.  The guilty spouse must, in good faith, attempt the reconciliation intentionally with the purpose of saving the marriage.  Additionally, the aggrieved spouse can only forgive what they know about.  If there were multiple affairs and all were not disclosed there may still exist fault grounds, whether they are aware of it or not.  Also, the behavior, the adultery, if repeated revives the grounds for divorce.  That is, past acts that were known may have been forgiven, but if repeated the aggrieved would have grounds again.  Future acts would not be forgiven either solely based on a prior reconciliation.

Condonation is one of those more difficult issues to wrestle with in divorce.  The Court must consider the knowledge of the aggrieved spouse, the intent of the guilty spouse, the effort(s) to reconcile – whether they are in good faith.  All these are fact specific and subjective determinations to be made by the Court.

Warning!!  Some lawyers will advise the guilty party to do or say whatever is necessary to get the other party back in bed, for “reconciliation,” so that the defense of Condonation may be used.  If you find yourself in this situation, please seek the advice of an attorney prior to a reconciliation attempt.  Divorce attorneys can also help you save your marriage, or at least advise you on the ramifications if you try.

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