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.

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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

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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.

Arrested & Divorced; Just Say No!

Everyone knows that Adultery is a fault ground for divorce in Mississippi. Adultery is defined as sexual intercourse with a  person of the opposite sex, not your spouse. It also must be uncondoned, which means legally forgiven by the other spouse, and it cannot have been committed in collusion with the other spouse just to gain a divorce. MCA § 93-5-1.

However, Adultery may also be considered crime!

§ 97-29-1. Adultery and fornication; unlawful cohabitation 

If any man and woman shall unlawfully cohabit, whether in adultery or fornication, they shall be fined in any sum not more than five hundred dollars each, and imprisoned in the county jail not more than six months; and it shall not be necessary, to constitute the offense, that the parties shall dwell together publicly as husband and wife, but it may be proved by circumstances which show habitual sexual intercourse.

So in addition to having a divorce granted against the offending party they could also be arrested and prosecuted and face a $500.00 fine and/or up to 6 months in the county jail. And that may not even be the worst of it with the potential for an Alienation of Affection lawsuit out there. (It’s  actionable to sue someone for the breakdown of your marriage, a blog for another day).

In the words of Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No!”

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Divorce, Child Custody & Child Support, Alimony, Contempt, Modification, Youth Court, Adoption and Appeals.

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