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Gulfport Family Law Blog

How the child custody process works

Developing a child custody plan that is in the child's best interest is of utmost importance, but before parents begin negotiating custody it is helpful for them to understand what that means, how it is determined and how the child custody process works, generally.

The family law process is designed to help families going through a divorce promote the interests of their family when determining the best child custody and visitation agreement for them. The focus is always on what is in the best interests of the child and the family law process considers a variety of factors to determine that and is always available to help families reach child custody arrangements.

Helping professionals and business owners with divorce

For Mississippi professionals, such as engineers, dentists, physicians, architects and small business owners, a divorce can have a serious impact on their careers and businesses. Protecting a business and a career can be of paramount consideration. Children are often an even bigger consideration than a career, and many people wish to protect their assets as well in a divorce.

A few months ago, we discussed the various grounds for divorce in Mississippi. The grounds for divorce here in the Magnolia State are different from those of most other states. If the parties to a divorce do not agree on all of the important details of how the marriage dissolution should play out, the party filing the divorce must cite a ground - other than irreconcilable differences - for the divorce. These grounds include desertion, adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, incarceration, mental illness, addiction issues and intellectual disability. The spouse who initiates the divorce may need to provide clear and convincing evidence of the negative impact of the problem on the marriage.

What are the legal requirements for adoption in Mississippi?

The adoption process can dramatically improve the lives of both children and parents in Gulfport. However, in order for the adoption process to be successful, the parties must follow all legal requirements for adoption in Mississippi.

If a married couple wishes to adopt a child, the spouses can file a joint petition for adoption. Otherwise, a single person may also adopt a child. The petition must be filed in the county chancery court where the adoptive parent or parents live, where the child lives, where the child was found or where the child currently lives.

What rights do you have to visit grandchildren after divorce?

Grandparents play an important role in the lives of children across Mississippi. The relationship they have with their grandchildren is an integral one in many kids' lives, as they provide advice, guidance, love and stability that a child cherishes. When the parents of the children divorce, it can end up impacting their relationship and leave a large hole in the lives of kids already struggling emotionally to come to terms with the end of their parents' marriage.

In Mississippi, grandparents have the right to petition the court for reasonable visitation with their grandchildren, before or after a divorce has taken place. The burden of proof in this instance falls on the grandparents.

The link between promotion and divorce

When one part of a couple gets promoted at work, it should mean more money, more stability and a better living standard for the whole family. What it shouldn't mean is a divorce, but a recent study demonstrates this just might be the case if it is the wife getting the promotion.

Mississippi residents may be surprised to hear that, according to the recent study, women who were promoted were at an increased risk of getting divorced after they were promoted at work. This seemed especially true for women who were in traditional gender roles during their marriage. The researchers determined if someone was in a stereotypical marriage by looking at who took a larger share of parental leave and the age of the couple relative to one another. Where the woman took 90 percent of the parental leave and was at least four years younger than her husband, the couple was almost twice as likely to get a divorce if the wife was promoted to a CEO position at private companies within three years of the promotion.

The basics of child support modification in Mississippi

When a Mississippi couple with children divorces or separates, one of the parents often will pay child support to the other. In setting the amount to be paid, the court will take into account each parent's income, as well as the financial needs of the children. Once this amount is set, the paying spouse is to make payments to the recipient spouse for as long as legally necessary.

But, what happens if life events intervene and the amount paid is no longer feasible? For example, what if the paying spouse loses their job or experiences a reduction in income? What happens if their income increases and they could pay more? What if the recipient spouse has a change in income that changes the amount of child support they arguably need? What if the needs of the children change?

Is there a preference for mothers for child custody in Miss.?

Traditionally, mothers are thought of as handling the rearing of children while fathers are the primary breadwinners. This traditional view is outdated, as many Gulfport parents know. Still, the traditional view is how many people think of parenting roles. The question is whether Mississippi law adheres to the traditional view or recognizes the modern reality that both parents play a key role in child rearing.

The modern view is how courts in the Magnolia State view the matter. Mississippi state law says that neither parent has any right paramount to the right of the other concerning custody. It further states that parents are the joint natural guardians of their minor children and are equally charged with their care, nurture, welfare, and education, and the care and management of their estates.

Understanding and compassionate child custody advocacy

No two families have the exact same circumstances, so it's not surprising that no two child custody disputes have the exact same issues. Differing work and school schedules, different geographical locations and different religious practices all can be issues for families trying to come to a child custody agreement.

Last week we told you about a family facing some steep but not unique challenges in their child custody dispute. The mother, who was incarcerated, requested that the family law court order the father to bring their children to the prison for visitation. The father opposed granting the order. Looking at the totality of the circumstances, the judge ruled that the father was not required to bring the children in for visitation, but encouraged the father to permit the children to maintain contact with their mother.

Grounds for divorce in Mississippi

In Mississippi, marriage is considered a contract between two parties who agree on their rights and obligations under the contract. When parties wish to end the contract, they must seek a divorce decree from a judge. A divorce decree ends both the marital contract and the relationship. In some cases, when both parties agree to divorce, a no-fault divorce is appropriate and all that remains is for the parties to work out matters like property division and child custody.

In other cases, however, one party may wish to sue for a divorce on their own. This is known as a contested divorce. To initiate a contested divorce, the suing party must allege one of the twelve recognized grounds for divorce in Mississippi in their petition. A judge will ultimately determine whether or not to grant the divorce.

Deployment can complicate child custody issues

Many military families make their homes in Mississippi and the Gulfport/Biloxi area. As service personnel know, as rewarding as the career may often be it can also be terribly stressful on a family. This stress, unfortunately, contributes to high divorce rates among military families and results in the same types of issues that other divorcing couples face, like child custody and support matters.

Service personnel also face their own unique sets of challenges when it comes to divorce and child custody issues. Deployment, for example, can add a considerable level of strain to a parent's relationship with their children, as well as with the other parent. This means that when military parents are divorcing, the possibility of being deployed should be a major consideration when crafting a child custody plan.