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Family Law

Divorce and other custody issues can be one the most important decisions you can make. We provide representation for divorce, custody, contempt issues, child support, paternity, and adoption.

Divorce, and No, There is No Legal Separation in Mississippi

You may obtain a divorce in Mississippi on the grounds of irreconcilable differences if both parties agree to it. Mississippi continues to be one of the few states that require both parties agreement on this “no fault” ground for divorce. An irreconcilable differences divorce must be on file for 60 days before a divorce is granted. Mississippi allows for separate maintenance; that is, one party has left the marital home and won’t return, without any fault of the other party. In this case, the court could make the leaving party continue to pay the mortgage, support, and other bills. However, the parties are still considered legally married.

There are twelve fault grounds for divorce in Mississippi, but by far the most common is the fault ground of cruel and habitual inhuman treatment. A lot of people file this under the “we fuss a lot” or “we just don’t get along.” Mississippi Supreme Court case law says that fussing and arguing isn’t enough however; you’ve got to show there is habitual conduct by the other party that arises to cruel treatment. The legislature has also recently added that a single incident of spousal abuse may be enough to have a divorce granted to you. Adultery is also a common ground and speaks for itself, as is habitual use of drugs, alcohol, and other opiates. Finally, you don’t have to pick a particular ground; you may assert as many grounds for divorce as you legitimately have.

Custody

Mississippi courts use the case of Albright v. Albright in determining initial custody cases.

The factors are:

  1. Age, health and gender of the child.
  2. Parent having continuity of care prior to the separation.
  3. Parent with best parenting skills and willingness and capacity to provide primary child care.
  4. Employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment.
  5. Physical and mental health and age of the parent.
  6. Emotional ties of parent to child.
  7. Moral fitness of the parent.
  8. Home, school and community record of the child.
  9. Preference of the child at age sufficient to express a preference.
  10. Stability of parent’s home environment and employment of each parent.
  11. Relative financial situation of the parents.
  12. Difference in religion of the parents.
  13. Differences in personal values of the parents.
  14. Differences in lifestyle of the parents.
  15. Other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship.

The Albright factors are not to be applied in the manner of a scoresheet or mathematical formula. Lee v. Lee, 798 So.2d 1284, 1288 (Miss. 2001). The Chancellor may give special weight to one, two or several factors to determine the outcome. Divers v. Divers, 856 So.2d 370, 376 (Miss. App. 2003). The Chancellor has the ultimate discretion to judge the weight and credibility of evidence. Chamblee v. Chamblee, 637 So.2d 850, 860 (Miss. 1994); Johnson v. Gray, 859 So.2d 1006, 1013-1014 (Miss. 2003).

Once an initial custody determination is made, custody modification is possible. The standard is that, since the last custody order, a material change in circumstances in the custodial home has occurred, that is adverse to the best interests of the minor child, and a custody modification is in the child’s best interest.

Custody cases are always challenging, both legally and emotionally, and there are hundreds of cases on different aspects of custody that must be consulted, depending on the facts of your case.

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John J. McNeil handled my case professionally and efficiently, and really worked hard on my charges. Not only was he explanatory of the process, he kept me informed throughout. He was able to get the felony charges against me dismissed, and I couldn't be happier with his work. I feel that he has a genuine regard for his clients and I highly recommend him. Courtney L.
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I have used john for yrs ! He has always been honest and never tried to push me into something that would hurt me in the future. I would use him again . If someone needs a lawyer he is for sure a great lawyer and tells it like it is . It’s not all about the money for him he really cares about his job. Tandra