Divorce is never easy. It involves a lot of hard decisions and negotiations between two people who are already tired of fighting with each other. The good news is the worst is behind you. You’ve already been through the emotional turmoil, and you’ve decided to end your unhappy marriage.
What happens next involves creating a plan for the rest of your life that focuses on your finances and your children’s future. Before you begin this part, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the marriage laws in Mississippi so you can set realistic expectations.
To that end, The Law Offices of Rusty Williard would like to provide you with some general guidelines on how divorce works in Mississippi. We’ll talk about how assets are divided between divorcing spouses and what impacts these divisions will have on your future. We’ll make this article specific to one of the most common questions we are asked in family law, namely, what a wife is entitled to in a Mississippi divorce settlement.
The general rules and advice in the following sections are intended to inform both the husband and the wife of the settlement she’s likely to receive. We want to help as many people as possible understand the legal complexities that a divorce can involve. These sections are not specific to any couple or situation, so if you have questions or need specific advice tailored to your unique circumstances, call our Brandon, MS office today.
Mississippi Divorce Laws
When it comes to dividing assets in a Mississippi divorce, the state operates under an equitable distribution model. Unlike community property states where assets are split 50/50, equitable distribution aims for a fairer division. The actual property distribution may not always be equal, but through equitable distribution, it will always be fair. Here’s an overview of the key aspects of equitable distribution laws in Mississippi:
Marital vs. Non-Marital Assets: The first step is distinguishing between marital assets (acquired during the marriage) and non-marital assets (acquired before the marriage or through inheritance/gifts). Marital assets are subject to division, while non-marital assets generally aren’t.
Factors for Division: Courts consider several factors to determine what’s fair. These include each spouse’s income and assets, how long the marriage lasted, whether children are present, the health and age of each spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, any tax consequences that will result from the divorce, and finally, any wasteful dissipation of assets. This is why each divorce case is unique and why asset division can be such a complicated process.
Contributions to Marital Property: Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage are weighed evenly. One spouse may make all the money, but the other spouse cares for the home and raises the children. The court considers both of these jobs equally important for a successful marriage, so asset divisions will not usually factor in who actually paid for the car.
Alimony and Child Support: When a court is determining how to divide assets in a divorce, it also considers the obligations of alimony (spousal support) and child support. One spouse who is required to pay both alimony and child support may be left with more of the marital assets so they can continue to support the family.
Fault in Divorce: While Mississippi allows for no-fault divorce, the conduct of the parties during the marriage can be a factor in the division of assets, especially in cases of adultery or abuse. Individuals who did not follow their marriage vows may be penalized when it comes time for asset distribution.
Retirement Assets: Retirement assets accumulated during the marriage are often considered marital property. This only refers to the amount that was earned while the two were together, however.
Debts: Like assets, debts are also divided equitably. The court looks at who incurred the debt and why to make its judgment.
Judicial Discretion: Ultimately, the court has broad discretion to decide what is fair, and each case can vary widely based on individual circumstances. This is another reason why an experienced Mississippi divorce attorney can make all the difference when it comes to the division of your marital property. We can make deals, uncover evidence, and find loopholes to help you keep the things that matter most.
Common Divorce Questions:
Q) What is the Date Used for Classifying and Valuing Property?
A) Courts use the date of separation or the date of filing for divorce to classify and value the marital property. This date is important because it marks the point at which the couple’s assets and debts are ready to be assessed for division.
Q) Can Separate Property Become Marital Property?
A) Yes, separate property can become marital property. This usually happens if the separate property is mixed with marital assets or if both spouses contribute to its value during the marriage. For example, if one spouse owns a house before marriage but both spouses contribute to its mortgage payments, the house may be considered marital property.
Q) What is a Separation Agreement in a Divorce
A) Spouses can agree on how to divide their property, either independently or through mediation. This is known as the separation agreement.
Q) How Does the Separation Agreement Work?
A) If a division agreement is made fairly and without coercion, courts generally accept it. These agreements can simplify the divorce process by avoiding the need for a court to decide on the division of assets. It lets the couple divide things themselves because they know what is most important. The only trouble comes when one party won’t agree to the terms. That’s when the courts have to go in and make the tough decisions.
Call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard Today
Family law attorney Rusty Williard has been serving the Mississippi community for nearly 40 years. During that time, he has seen countless divorces end amicably and respectfully. The Law Offices of Rusty Williard can answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. Remember, the difficult part is over. Now, let’s start planning for the rest of your life. Call today at (601) 824-9797.