One of the first things I would do would be to contact an attorney. That attorney can look on MEC Filing, which is basically a directory of all divorces filed in Mississippi, to see if your spouse has already filed for divorce. If you’re concerned about protecting assets, I recommend filing for divorce first—if your spouse has not already filed—and then file a motion for emergency purposes to put a freeze on all accounts and assets so that nothing is disposed of prior to the divorce action taking place.
In addition to contacting an attorney, it’s also quite helpful to know what all of your assets are. Whether the couple has separate bank accounts or joint accounts, whether they own property together or separately, it is all considered marital property. The best thing you could do to protect yourself is to get a good idea of what all you own in assets and what all your spouse owns in assets and write all that down. Gather all of the documentation so that you are organized, which will help your attorney get you your half of the marital estate.
What Are The Options For Proceeding With A Divorce In Mississippi?
There are basically two options in Mississippi. The first—the easiest way to get a divorce in Mississippi—is an uncontested irreconcilable difference divorce where both parties agree to everything and put it on paper. The court will approve of that agreement, or if the court thinks that something is missing, they will advise the couple to address certain issues before divorcing. It’s not just paperwork; it does require a court appearance. I always advise having an attorney to help you through that process because it is very complicated, especially if children are involved.
The second option is a contested divorce, and that is when one party wants the divorce but the other party does not or when the parties cannot come to a full agreement. In that case, you usually end up in a trial situation where the judge will determine which assets are marital and who will get those assets. They will determine child custody, as well as visitation and child support. Basically, all you can do at trial is present your side of the story, and you’re relying on a judge to make the decision as to what is going to happen in the divorce. For that reason, I advise couples that it is best to come to some sort of agreement so that both sides will get what they want out of the divorce.
How Is Custody Generally Determined In Mississippi When A Couple Is Divorcing Or When The Parents Are Not Together?
In Mississippi, the judges consider what are called the Albright factors by performing an Albright analysis. This comes from a Supreme Court case that established what 12 factors a judge needed to look at in deciding who would have the primary physical custody of a child. The factors include the age of the child, the sex of the child, the parents’ employment, the parents’ mental and physical health, and the child’s mental and physical health. The factors also include any extracurricular activities involving family, the community, and church.
When the judge is considering these 12 factors, it’s not the case that one parent might get six factors and the other six, leading to a tie, or anything like that. The judge can look at the analysis to help guide them toward a decision, but they have to define what they found in each of those factors in the judgment. A factor could be neutral to both parents. For example, both parents could have good mental health, so the factor is neutral and wouldn’t favor either parent for the child to be in their primary physical custody. One parent could have more free time with their employment, which would allow them to spend more time with the child, to pick the child up from school, or to get the child ready for school, and that factor may, therefore, favor that parent.
The factors are determined from the point of view of the judge as they go through this Albright analysis. For that reason, it’s critical to have an attorney to review every factor with you and help you emphasize the best things about you, how those fit each factor, and why you should be decided to be the party that is better in that one section.
Is There An Age When A Child Can Decide Who They Will Live With In Mississippi?
In Mississippi, when a child reaches the age of 12 years, they can give their opinion to the court and let the court know who they would prefer residing with. Now, the judge won’t make their decision based solely on what the child wants; again, the judge has to perform an Albright analysis, but the child’s preference is one of the 12 factors that a judge will consider if the child is over the age of 12.
For more information on Divorce & Child Custody Law in Mississippi, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (228) 300-4433 today.
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