Tag Archives: Adultery

Divorce Court vs. Criminal Court

Sometimes divorcing parties act like criminals, but Divorce Court is NOT Criminal Court (typically).

Divorce court, a.k.a. Chancery Court, is a civil court. The Court’s function is to legally divorce parties that are entitled to be divorced and divide property. The Court has the authority to deal with and punish conduct that is violative of its Orders or disruptive conduct that occurs directly in its presence. Other than those instances it is not a punitive Court. You typically are not punished for marital fault…

Criminal court, which can be Circuit, County, Municipal, or Justice, among others, can punish. These Courts have prosecutors whose job is to prove the accused committed a crime/violated a law. The Judge or a jury determines if the matter was proven and a punishment, including; incarceration, fines, and other remedies.

However, sometimes these can relate or overlap. Conduct that could serve as grounds for divorce, such as domestic violence, is also a crime. The Court’s are independent of one another and you can be punished in Criminal Court and divorced in Chancery Court over the same facts.

Interestingly, your right to plead the fifth, invoking the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution can be done in both Courts. While it cannot be used against you in Criminal Court, it can be used to make an adverse inference in Chancery Court. So, if you are accused of adultery/habitual fornication in Criminal Court, which IS a crime in Mississippi, you may invoke the fifth and the prosecutor must prove a violation of the law by beyond a reasonable doubt, however in Divorce Court, while you may invoke the fifth, the Court can treat that as an adverse inference/admission and could find such to be enough to rise to clear and convincing evidence of adultery. Confused yet?

Divorce Court and Criminal Court are different animals, with different standards and different outcomes. However, all are serious and your rights may be infringed if the Court determines they should be.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce Court lawyer and encourages those charged with a crime to confer with an experienced Criminal Defense attorney.

Careful of Your Online Footprint…

What goes on the internet stays on the internet!

Flim Flam – Steve Robertson

I recently read the book Flim Flam. One theme that stuck out was that your activities through electronic devices leaves a footprint that can be traced back to you.

This is a good lesson for persons maneuvering a family law matter. Your digital footprint will lead back to you.

Hillary Clinton and Tom Brady know this and you should too.

Just like in real life, your mother told you (or divorce attorney) not to go places you don’t need to go. Well, don’t go there electronically either.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi cautioning you that your digital footprint may lead straight back to you.

(601)850-8000

http://www.BowTieLawyer.ms

Fault Grounds for Divorce in Mississippi: Updated!

The Mississippi Legislature amended the Fault Grounds for divorce last term to include spousal domestic violence and tweaked the corroboration requirement. The current Fault Grounds for Divorce are below. You only need one.

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§ 93-5-1. Causes for divorce

  • Divorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for any one or more of the following twelve (12) causes:
    • First.  Natural impotency.
    • Second.  Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.
    • Third.  Being Sentenced to any Penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.
    • Fourth.  Willful, Continued and Obstinate Desertion for the space of one (1) year.
    • Fifth.  Habitual Drunkenness.
    • Sixth.  Habitual and Excessive use of Opium, Morphine or other like Drug.
    • Seventh.  Habitual Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, including Spousal Domestic Abuse.

   Spousal Domestic Abuse may be established through the reliable testimony of a single credible witness, who may be the injured party, and includes, but is not limited to:

   That the injured party’s spouse attempted to cause, or purposely, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to the injured party, or that the injured party’s spouse attempted by physical menace to put the injured party in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; or

   That the injured party’s spouse engaged in a pattern of behavior against the injured party of threats or intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse, forced isolation, sexual extortion or sexual abuse, or stalking or aggravated stalking as defined in Section 97-3-107, if the pattern of behavior rises above the level of unkindness or rudeness or incompatibility or want of affection.

  • Eighth.  Having Mental Illness or an intellectual disability at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of that infirmity.
  • Ninth.  Marriage to some other Person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.
  • Tenth.  Pregnancy of the wife by another Person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of the pregnancy.
  • Eleventh.  Either party may have a divorce if they are Related to each other within the Degrees of Kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.
  • Twelfth.  Incurable Mental Illness. However, no divorce shall be granted upon this ground unless the party with mental illness has been under regular treatment for mental illness and causes thereof, confined in an institution for persons with mental illness for a period of at least three (3) years immediately preceding the commencement of the action… (see statute for complete description).