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

10 Annoying Attorney Traits

My inspiration was a recent blog with a similar topic of the 10 most annoying type of persons.  It had some salty language so I did not re-post, but it got me thinking about things that lawyers do that are annoying.  Here are just 10 of them.

10.   Use Legalese.  Sometimes there is not a plain English equivalent term, but come on.  Please don’t constantly say whereby, wherefore, use Latin terms, or over use allegedly.

9.   Always Angry.  Yes, you have a law degree, but that doesn’t give you a license to be jerk.  Perhaps there is a time and place for being a jerk, but it’s not often.

8.   Don’t Return Calls.  Your time is valuable, we know.  If you get a call return it in a timely manner.  Things happen, you forget, you get busy, you’re writing a new blog post…Return the call.

7.   Blaming the Paralegal.  So every mistake or miscue at your office is someone else’s fault?  Well, you hired them.  Take responsibility for your action or inaction.

6.   Cause Delay.  Attorneys have a unique and uncanny ability to make things take immensely longer than they should.  Is it because they are paid more if it takes longer? Billable hours, Hmmmm.

5.   Take on too Much.  This attorney is always on the go, juggling balls in the air, having 2 court appearance in the same day and it makes you exhausted just to speak to them…if they call you back.

4.   Take on Things They Should Not.  This attorney tries to be a jack of all trades and master of none.  If you can do it great.  If you don’t know what to do, pass on taking the representation.

3.    Always Late.  This attorney is always rushing, but not getting anywhere on time.  There is always an excuse and they figure the judge will be late anyway.

2.    Constantly Curse.  This one is dropping curse words in every conversation.  Most are inappropriate and crude , but hell…

1.    Know it All.  They have an answer for everything. Why you are wrong, why they are right.  There is no compromise unless it’s on their terms.  They are exhausting to speak to.

What do attorneys do that annoys you?  Leave a comment, but don’t say “wear a bow tie.”

Matthew is a family law attorney and native Mississippian who tries NOT to be an annoying attorney, though he has on occasion exhibited some of the traits above.  (3 this week!)  

Follow his blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit his website: Thompson Law Firm, pllc

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

Jurisdiction; Where to Sue.

Jurisdiction is one of those legal terms we hear a lot, but aren’t always sure what it means.  In the legal world, for a Court to be able to act upon a  filed complaint and grant relief to a party, the Court must have jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction provides the Court authority to makes decisions over a party and the topic of their lawsuit.

Mississippi law provides rules for determining if a Court has jurisdiction and where that may be.  MCA § 93-5-5, contains the residency requirements for a divorce  action.  Additionally, all actions for divorce will be filed in the Chancery Court for the appropriate county.

The jurisdiction of the chancery court in suits for divorce shall be confined to the following cases:

(a) Where one (1) of the parties has been an actual bonafide resident within this state for six (6) months next preceding the commencement of the suit. If a member of the armed services of the United States is stationed in the state and residing within the state with his spouse, such person and his spouse shall be considered actual bonafide residents of the state for the purposes of this section, provided they were residing within the state at the time of the separation of the parties.

(b) In any case where the proof shows that a residence was acquired in this state with a purpose of securing a divorce, the court shall not take jurisdiction thereof, but dismiss the bill at the cost of complainant.

In plain terms, this means you file your divorce action in your home county, or the County that you have resided in for at least 6 months, immediately filing the action.  If you were married in another stated and meet the Mississippi residency requirements you file in Mississippi.  If were married on the Coast, but live in Jackson and have for over 6 months you file in Jackson.  Sometimes, if you wish to file in your current area, but have not met the residency requirements you may have to wait.  Sometimes there are disputes as to residency and the parties can litigate where the case should be litigated.  Some states have different residency requirements than Mississippi so don’t bank on the 6 months if you are in another state.

There are also a number of exceptions or tweaks to the jurisdictional rules.  Another Court, or State, could have “emergency jurisdiction” in child custody cases pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. (UCCJEA).  Also, if your divorce was originally in another state or another county, that original Court would have original jurisdiction and there are additional rules to “transfer” jurisdiction and in some instance you cannot move it.  Military family law cases also have exceptions to the traditional jurisdiction rules.

Jurisdiction is a critical aspect to consider when filing.  It is imperative that your case be filed in the right place geographically and the right Court.  You also may have options between differing Courts based on what is at issue in your case.  Talk to your lawyer about where your case should be filed.

Matthew is a family law attorney and native Mississippian.  Follow his blog, here, at

You may also contact Matthew with your family law or jurisdictional question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or

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

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