What Should I Know About Collaborative Divorce in Mississippi?

Divorces are hard. Your average divorce can be taxing mentally, emotionally, and financially. Couples who are particularly angry at each other may end up drawing out divorce proceedings as they argue about each and every aspect of the breakup. Not only does this end up hurting them, but it can also wreak havoc on their young children. The more disagreements they have, the longer the proceedings take, and the more expensive the divorce becomes. Fortunately, there is another way. If the couple can seek third-party mediation, a collaborative divorce is possible.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

A collaborative divorce is a divorce where the majority of the issues are solved outside of the court. By using mediation and negotiation, the couple can make the entire process less contentious and less expensive. This can benefit the family by reducing the amount of stress on each spouse and the amount of trauma on any young children involved. There are several issues that the couple must agree upon for a collaborative divorce to be possible. We’ll discuss those issues later, but suffice it to say if the couple cannot or will not agree with each other, traditional divorce may be their only available avenue.

How Does It Work?

The first step in a collaborative divorce is to have both spouses agree to a collaborative divorce. If one side refuses, collaboration will not be possible. The next step is to hire an attorney familiar with collaborative divorce. Oftentimes, attorneys are more comfortable going straight to court with any dispute. Instead, you want someone who will try mediation before litigation. Next, you must meet with your attorney and decide what you want out of the divorce and how you want to handle the important issues that the divorce will lay out.

The Important Issues

Every divorce in Mississippi must deal with several weighty issues that outline how things will proceed after the separation. With collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will attempt to come to an agreement on all of these issues with negotiation specialists. Again, if even one of these issues cannot be agreed upon, a judge will be required to make the final call. The important issues of every divorce are as follows:

Property Division

All assets and debts that fall into the category of marital property must be divided equally or, failing that, divided equitably. Marital property is usually defined as anything acquired during the marriage. This includes tangible property like cars, real estate, and jewelry. It also includes intangible property like bank accounts, stocks, and retirement accounts. Even if a bank account is only in your name, chances are good that it will be considered marital property and divided. If one spouse wishes to keep an asset (for instance, the family home), they can “buy out” their spouse using funds from their retirement accounts. This type of negotiation is known as a distributive award, and it’s one of the many advantages of working with a mediation expert.

Parenting Time and Custody

Arguably the most important issue to deal with in a divorce is what will happen to your children. There are two types of custody. One is physical custody, and the other is legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child actually lives and which parent takes care of them the majority of the time. Legal custody refers to guardianship. That is, who can decide where the child will go to school, what medical treatments they will undergo, and what type of church they will attend.

In most situations, one parent retains physical custody, and the other sees the child on the weekends and pays child support. The couple then shares legal custody, so they can both make decisions about the child’s future and wellbeing. This is only one example, however. There are several possible custody options that the parents will need to agree to. The amount of child support required will not be up for debate, however. Mississippi has a set amount based on the noncustodial parent’s income and the number of children in the family. You can find several “child support calculators” online that will give you an idea of how much will be required for your situation.


Unlike child support, spousal support is not a guaranteed element of every divorce. Alimony is awarded if one spouse was the sole breadwinner or made significantly more money than their partner. These days, alimony is used as a temporary tool for getting the underemployed spouse back on their fear. Most of the time, when alimony is required, it is used to pay for education or job training.


If you are interested in a collaborative divorce, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797. Let us help make the process as smooth and inexpensive as possible.