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Gulfport Family Law Blog

Mississippi Supreme Court says no visitation for jailed mom

Child custody issues are often some of the most sensitive matters that must be addressed during a divorce. In Mississippi, child custody matters are almost always viewed from the perspective of the children and what is truly in their best interests. Unfortunately, this does not always comport with what parents believe is in the best interests of the children or themselves.

This was illustrated in a recent case that was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. In Griffin v. Griffin, the Court upheld a chancellor's decision, which denied an incarcerated mother's request for an order requiring the custodial father to bring their four children to visit the mother in prison. Instead, the judge allowed for four weekly phone calls and left visitation to the discretion of the father.

Can spouses legally separate in Mississippi?

In many states, spouses may choose to live apart and yet, for one reason or another - health coverage, for example - not seek a divorce. The rights and duties of each spouse can be formalized in a legal separation agreement in some states. Such an agreement sets out the financial and other obligations of each spouse, and in the event of a breach, may be legally binding. But, not in the Magnolia State.

Under Mississippi family law, there is no such creature as a "legal separation" between married individuals. You are either married or you are divorced. Or, you request an order for separate maintenance. Separate maintenance is a legal construct that was developed by Mississippi case law. It is designed to favor reconciliation and may be considered punitive to a spouse who has left the marital home.

Those under 30 with military careers more likely to divorce

Many jobs can put a strain on marriage or family life. However, as United States service personnel already know, few careers are as stressful on a young family as one on active duty in the military. An analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by the career website Zippia illustrated this in dramatic fashion, putting hard numbers to a fact already known by military families. First-line enlisted military supervisors are more likely to divorce by age 30 than those in any other career.

Unfortunately, the numbers are not even marginal. According to the data, almost 30 percent - a full third - of all such married military supervisors are divorced by 30 years of age. This is nearly twice the rate of the next top categories, non-farm animal caretakers and probation/correctional treatment officers. However, not all military jobs lead to higher young divorce rates.

Determining spousal maintenance or alimony in Mississippi

Divorce can have extreme financial consequences for the parties involved. In some cases, a dissolution will create a financial disparity between the parties. In Mississippi, if circumstances warrant, a judge can award alimony to help correct any economic unfairness that arises as the result of a divorce.

After receiving input from both parties, it will be up to a judge to determine whether spousal maintenance is appropriate. In determining the propriety of an award, a judge will consider the fairness of such an award to both parties and will weigh several factors prior to making a decision. The factors a judge will consider include both parties' income, as well as expenses and the standard of living the spouses enjoyed while they were married.

Don't rely on informal child custody arrangements

If you and your former or soon-to-be-former spouse have a good relationship, you may consider a handshake agreement when it comes to child custody. You probably think that you can both just "work it out." And that may be true. However, even the best relationships have bumpy times, and over the course of years, parts of the agreement can be remembered incorrectly.

A long-term arrangement like child custody is best done in a formal manner, on paper, with a judge's signature. This way, in the event of a breakdown in communication, you will have the agreement to rely upon and revisit to clarify any disagreement. Moreover, even with a formal custody agreement in place the parties can agree upon an occasional exception.

Waveland is the divorce capital of Mississippi

Almost half of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce. Folks in Mississippi enjoy a divorce rate that's slightly lower than the national average: between three and four of every 10 married couples in the Magnolia State divorce. According to USA Today, however, one neighbor of Gulfport has a divorce rate that's almost double that of the rest of the state: Waveland.

Across Mississippi, just under 12 percent of the total population is composed of divorced individuals. In Waveland, however, one out of every five adults in the city is divorced. Financial concerns often play a part in divorce, and statistics show that a there are a high number of low-income households in the Waveland area. On the other hand, it's possible that the low income level is a result of divorce - separate single-income households instead of combined, double income households - rather than a cause of it.

Extraordinary medical expenses and child support in Mississippi

When you factor in all of the expenses, such as food, clothing, education, entertainment and health care, it can be expensive to raise a child these days. This is why so much care is made in computing the child support obligations due between divorced and separated parents. The cost of health care can be ameliorated if the child has health insurance. Even then, though, there are often out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance. These can include co-payments, deductibles, prescriptions and more.

In the context of computing child support, these are called extraordinary medical expenses. How does a child support plan deal with these expenses? For starters, Mississippi courts are allowed to deviate from the child support guidelines to account for extraordinary medical expenses. This means that the non-custodial parent may be asked to pay more than they otherwise would have factoring in all expenses and the income of each parent.

The benefits and drawbacks of prenuptial agreements

For many folks in Mississippi, prenuptial agreements bring to mind movie stars and other rich people. Many normal, everyday people have prenuptial agreements with their spouses, however. Although they are not necessarily for everyone, many people may find that a prenuptial agreement is suitable for their situation. It all depends on your specific circumstances and values.

What are the possible benefits of a prenuptial agreement? If one or both spouses are bringing significant assets to a marriage, a prenuptial agreement can document this. This property may be considered to be separate property in a subsequent divorce, and separate property is often not subject to property division.

Can a military divorce be filed during a deployment?

Although it may sometimes seem that a person's life is on hold during a military deployment, the fact is that life goes on for Gulfport military families. This means that divorce may crop up as an issue for service members and their spouses. Can a service member file a divorce petition while they are on active duty? Can their non-service member spouse? This blog post will address these questions briefly.

The legal aspects of service members' lives are governed in part by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This federal law also controls how states can regulate the lives of service members and their families. The act provides that U.S. service members cannot begin divorce proceedings while on active duty and that they cannot have divorce proceedings filed against them while on active duty. Furthermore, the act gives courts discretion to extend the prohibition to 60 days following active duty.

Child custody dispute may be headed to court for Nas and Kelis

Sometimes a child custody dispute can be handled simply and amicably between two Mississippi parents. Other times, however, child custody disputes can drag on for years. The example of one musical ex-couple shows how a child custody dispute can sometimes go on and on and on.

Rapper Nas and singer Kelis divorced in 2010. Last month, Nas sought a court order establishing a custodial plan for their 8-year-old son. According to papers filed with the court, Nas said he had tried to resolve the matter with his ex-wife but she had not responded to his attempts to create an appropriate custodial plan for their son. Nas proposed a custody plan where he would have parenting time on the first, third and fifth weekends of every month.