Tag Archives: modification

When Court Doesn’t Go your Way…

Sometimes Court doesn’t go your way.


Judges make mistakes, witnesses remember it wrong and you may ask for improper relief. But, all is not lost. You have options.

Motion for New Trial. This motion, sometimes referred to as a motion for reconsideration, can provide an avenue for the Judge to correct the mistake. They must be filed within 10 days of the Final Judgment and they are not for a do-over, but to correct a clear error of law or fact.

Appeal. You may appeal any Final Judgment. You have 30 days to do so from the final ruling and if you do a timely Motion for New Trial it resets the appeal clock. Appeals can be cumbersome and daunting. These are to the appellate court, not the Court that decided your case. However, an appeal is based on what happened below, the trial record. It’s not for new happenings.

Modification. Even though your judgment may be final, certain aspects are always modifiable. Custody, support, visitation and certain other payments may be changed by the Court if circumstances warrant it.

Matthew Thompson is a Divorce and Appeals lawyer in Mississippi.


Family Law Practice Areas…defined.

Family Law areas defined for you. There is a lot of legal terminology used everyday that we attorneys take for granted that everyone knows what they mean, but that is not always the case.  Here are a few of the major areas of family law, the simple explanations and links to more information.

Stuart Miles /freedigital photos.net
  • Divorce– the legal and final end to a marriage, a.k.a. “a conscious uncoupling”

Fault Process and “No-Fault” process.

  • Child Custody– determination of the custodian(s), visitation schedule and important decision making for a minor child.
  • Child Support– who pays, how much and for what.

Additional practice areas will be featured and defined throughout the year.

Matthew Thompson is a family law  attorney  and handles a variety of family law legal matters.

Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

Don’t Wait 2 Years.

All too often I hear from a potential client months or years after an event that they NOW want to use as the basis for a significant change.

The call comes in and goes something like this;

Potential Client:  My ex took our child, moved to California and did not tell me.  She can’t do that, right?  What can I do about it?

Lawyer:  What was the custody arrangement and when was the move?

PC:  She had physical custody and moved 2 years ago.

Lawyer:  What have you done the last 2 years? Have you seen the child?

PC: Oh, I’ve seen her some, around the holidays and the summers, but now I want custody.

Lawyer:  Is the mom unfit? Is the child in danger or trouble?

PC: No, but she took her out of state. That’s kidnapping, right?

It’s not kidnapping and the move will likely not serve as the basis for a custody change with nothing more.  Also, your failure to act in a timely manner will be used against you.  Even though you did not “agree” you’re conduct showed you “acquiesced.”  Acquiesce means to “agree” by being silent or by not taking action immediately, objecting to the change.

It’s not just in Custody matters either.  Marital fault, financial shenanigans and other improper conduct is lessened with time.

Matthew Thompson is a Mississippi Child Custody Law attorney and advises Don’t Delay, Call Today!

Follow the blog:#BowTieLawyer Visit the website: #Thompson Law Firm  You may also contact Matthew with your family law matter or question at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms


It’s Never What you Think!

As an attorney that practices exclusively family law I am routinely posed with questions and scenarios of one person doing everything right and the other everything wrong.  However, when I start digging and asking the right questions I find that “It’s Never What you Think!”

Recently, I was asked by a friend to speak to friend about her potential case.  The potential client had “done everything right,” but the ex and his attorney were “out to destroy her” and would not let up.  She was at wit’s end.  As I was speaking with her I was asking about custody, visitation and support issues.

Lawyer:      “You are current on your support, right?”

Client:         “Yeah…” (said with hesitation)

Lawyer:      “That did not sound convincing”

Client:         “Well, I paid for my kids medical and activities and he has a great job and doesn’t NEED it.”

Lawyer:      “His job doesn’t really matter as far as support goes…what were you ordered to pay?

Client:         “$475.00 per month.”

Lawyer:      “When was the last time you paid $475.00?

Client:         “Years.” (said with hesitation)…”He didn’t need the money.”

This was not an instance of having “done everything right.”  Why the ex waited years to pursue it is a mystery, but he nonetheless has the right to.

In another instance, a “good father” just wanted reasonable visitation. I asked, as I always do,”What is the dirt on you?”

The DIRT is/are the things that the other side says you did, even if you did not do them; substance abuse, crimes, non-payment, hateful things.

In this instance “the dirt” was long ago, recreational drug use and just some routine fussing and fighting.  I said in jest, “Well, so long as you didn’t have a meth lab in the garage…”  “Actually, it was.”  There’s your dirt.

So to all of you well-meaning helpful friends, you are NOT getting the full story.  And to all of you eager attorneys seeking to fight injustice and righting the wrongs of others, get the full story.  It’s Never What you Think!

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and only believes half of what he sees and even less of what he hears. 

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer


Riding the Wave – “Coping” with Family, Law and Family Law

One of the best pieces of advice is to “ride the wave.”  In family law, such as life, adversity is a given. How you respond is the key.

How you choose to deal with that adversity will directly contribute to the results you get.  Oftentimes it is a common reaction to fight fire with fire, and we all know the eye for an eye sentiment, but that may not be the best response.  I have previously blogged on dealing with stress and uncertainty.  This one is a little different. It is not so much how to cope, but to try to use the adversity to your advantage.

A great example was when I was faced with a young father being sued for an increase in child support.  He had experienced an increase in  income and was really starting to enjoy life.  The ex sued him and he viewed this as ‘just his luck.’  I explained that she may be entitled to a child support increase, that he was paying a very low amount from a previous order, that some time had passed since last being in Court and that an increase was due.  As I discussed his situation he disclosed some frustration with the visitation schedule. How his new job, while paying well made the current schedule difficult to work  and the ex was not too easy to get along with.  I told him that since we are “going to court” that we should seek a visitation modification.  He did not want to make things worse. I told him it would not. Ultimately, an increase in support was negotiated along with a visitation schedule change that allowed him more time.

He rode the wave, sure it cost more money, but that is what the law requires once you subject yourself to the Court system.  He used the adversity to get a better result.

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.


What’s the Right Answer? (Family Law Conundrums)

Basic Family Law 101: (in most instances)

zicornicusso/freedigital photos.net

If you don’t know what the “right” legal answer is, do what’s “right,” and you’ll be fine.

-Matthew Thompson

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law Attorney in Mississippi.  That is all.

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

Shackin’ Up? = No Alimony!

Under Mississippi law, periodic alimony is subject to modification and termination, even if it’s based upon an agreement of the parties. See McDonald v. McDonald, 683 So. 2d 929, 931 (Miss. 1996) (The Court’s authority over periodic alimony award exists “regardless of any intent expressed by the parties to the contrary”).

Before 1994, Mississippi law provided that post-divorce sexual activity was illegal conduct which automatically terminated a wife’s right to alimony. This rule was changed in Hammonds v. Hammonds, 641 So. 2d 1211, 1216 (Miss. 1994), which held that in future cases the courts should consider only the economic effect of post-divorce cohabitation:

“[Our prior cases] clearly reflect a moral judgment that a divorced woman should not engage in sexual relations; the penalty for such activity is forfeiture of her right to support from her ex-husband. A secondary rationale in these cases for termination of alimony is the presumption that the divorced woman’s partner/cohabitant is providing financial support, thereby eliminating or reducing her need for support from her ex-husband. We find that only the latter issue—that of support—is properly before the court in its consideration of a request for alimony reduction or termination.” Id.

Three years later, in Scharwath v. Scharwath, 702 So. 2d 1210 (Miss. 1997), the Chancery Court held that the husband had not proven that the wife and her male companion were financially dependent upon one another and denied a termination of alimony. The MS Supreme Court reversed, adopting a formal presumption that cohabitation is a material change in circumstances sufficient to terminate alimony.

“This rationale, along with the facts of this case, accurately reflects the difficulty a providing spouse faces in presenting direct evidence of mutual financial support between cohabiting parties. The parties who live in cohabitation can easily and purposely keep their condition of mutual financial support concealed from the paying spouse, as well as from courts seeking only financial documentation before it will grant a modification. Such is the reason that we will, in future cases, apply the rule that proof of cohabitation creates a presumption that a material change in circumstances has occurred. See DePoorter v. DePoorter, 509 So. 2d 1141 (Fla. App. 1 Dist. 1987) (stating that presumption of material change in circumstances exists where recipient party cohabits with another). This presumption will shift the burden to the recipient spouse to come forward with evidence suggesting that there is no mutual support within his or her de facto marriage. While this presumption does not alter the overall burden of proof or the standard used to determine whether a modification is warranted, it does create a middle ground for this Court, between making moral judgment on the parties and condoning cohabitation outright.” Id., 702 So. 2d at 1211.

Under Hammonds, when a spouse receiving alimony is being supported by another person, that support is a sufficient change in financial circumstances to terminate alimony. To ensure that all relevant evidence was produced for the Court’s consideration, Scharwath placed the burden of proving financial independence upon the alimony recipient—the party with best access to the facts.

If an alimony recipient is cohabiting, the effect of that cohabitation cannot be removed by ending the cohabitation after a claim for termination of alimony is made. If that were the law, there would be little point in terminating alimony upon cohabitation at all, as alimony recipients would simply cease cohabitation whenever the rule is invoked.

So, if you are receiving alimony that terminates upon remarriage, cohabitation is also included as a terminable event.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and says shackin’ up can be expensive.

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@wmtlawfirm.com.

Latin Lessons; Res Judicata

Today’s blog is about one of those Latin terms that lawyers and judges say and no one else really knows what it means, until today.

hin255/freedigital photos.net

Res judicata, pronounced (Race Jude-ih-kah-tah), means the thing that has been decided or a matter already judged.  It is usually used as a legal defense to a suit, wherein the Defendant, the person being sued, raises the defense and argues the Plaintiff, the person suing, cannot get the relief they are seeking because they previously sought and were granted relief, or previously sought and were denied relief or previously sought relief and should have included that claim at that time.

By way of example, this scenario may better explain Res judicata;

Mary sues Jim for divorce.  As a part of the divorce Mary seeks the house and equitable distribution of the property, a fair division of the stuff.  However, Mary does not seek alimony.  The case is either settled or decided by the Chancellor.  All issues raised by Mary are resolved.  Upon settlement, or the Court’s ruling becoming final, the matter is closed.  Mary then realizes her mistake and seeks alimony, either through a new action or through a modification.  However, it is too late.  That issue is Res judicata, even if Mary should have received alimony, even if the Court would have awarded it.  It is barred because Mary could have brought it at the time of the divorce and should have, but did not for whatever reason.

It is important for parties involved in legal proceedings to know what their attorney is talking about and what those terms mean, some of them can really matter.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that knows some Latin terms and does not mind explaining them to his clients, even 2 or 3 times.  Trust the Bow Tie.

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@wmtlawfirm.com.