‘Til Death, Even in Divorce

There  is an old joke that the only sure things in life are death & taxes.  Even in divorce you still have to worry about death and taxes.

Death:  I have had several pending cases ended by death.  In one instance my client’s spouse died very suddenly of an accident.  It ended a contested divorce and custody case that had been progressing very slowly and not particularly amicably.  While the divorce and custody issues were over, it created new issues with the deceased spouse’s family. Grandparent visitation issues and intestacy issues arose, since the spouse died without a will (intestate).  This made the surviving spouse and children equal beneficiaries.  This was something the deceased’s side of the family was not to keen about.

I was also involved in a case where the non-custodial parent got custody of the children when the custodial parent died after the case was “over.”  They had been divorced for a few years.  But upon the custodial parent’s death the children when back to the surviving parent.

Death does not end the issues you have with the other parent or former spouse.  I know a lot of divorcing spouses may think it will solve all of their problems if that so-and-so would just die, but it could leave your children without their other parent.  It can create issues with the former in-laws, who now may be pursuing their rights of grandparent visitation.  It can create financial uncertainty as support obligations end at death, usually, and there might not be insurance or enough insurance.

Be careful what you wish for…

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that hopes your case is not prolonged or shortened due to the death of your attorney.  (Taxes will be the subject of another riveting post).

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer  

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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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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5 More Family Law FaceBook Don’ts

I previously blogged on 5 Family Law FaceBook Don’ts.  This was a very popular blog topic and continues to generate a lot of traffic. This post lists 5 more things you should not be doing on FaceBook with regards to your family law case.

Posting inappropriate stuff on FB is not just an American thing. 1/5 of Australian divorces use FB postings to discredit some testimony that was offered by one party and FB activities are showing up in about 1/3 of United Kingdom divorce cases. Familyandthelaw.com.au 

5 More Things not to Put on FaceBook:

  • Don’t post Pictures of the other party, whether they be flattering or not. 
  • Don’t post Pictures of the children doing activities with captions that note the other parent’s absence.
  • Don’t post Pictures of your new squeeze in a “Parenting Role” that is intended to inflame the other side.
  • Don’t comment on your friend’s drama and “one-up” them with your own.
  • Don’t allow your FB friends to bash your Ex. 

Stay tuned for more FaceBook don’ts, as I have enough material to make this one a series and unfortunately am learning of new things not to do on an almost daily basis.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi that strives to not put inappropriate things on FB and thinks you should too!  #Trust the Bow Tie.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer

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

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