Ridgeland Complex Divorce
According to the most recent census numbers, 40 percent of the adults living in the community of Ridgeland, Mississippi are currently married. Unfortunately, however, not every marriage lasts forever, and couples in Ridgeland or the surrounding areas may eventually decide to pursue a divorce. Unlike many states, Mississippi does not allow one spouse to assert irreconcilable differences, or no-fault, as a basis for divorce. Instead, there are two paths to divorce in the State of Mississippi: (1) an Irreconcilable Differences divorce where both parties agree to the divorce or (2) a contested or “fault based” divorce. A divorce may be relatively complex when one spouse is required to assert a ground for divorce against the other spouse because the divorce is contested. Moreover, issues of child custody and high asset property division also tend to make a divorce more complex. Experienced Ridgeland complex divorce lawyer M. Devin Whitt has extensive experience dealing with the nuances of these situations, and he is available to assist you with any issue you may face in a complex divorce.Understanding the Process of Seeking a Complex Divorce in Mississippi
Under Mississippi law, when one spouse wants to divorce, but the other does not, the spouse petitioning to divorce must have a “ground” or legal basis for ending the marriage. Typically, the ground will be based on the claim that he offending spouse committed some type of misconduct during the marriage that will entitle the nonoffending spouse to legally end the marring under Mississippi law. This means that the spouse cannot simply say that they no longer get along with the other person. Grounds for divorce in Mississippi are narrow and limited, including things such as habitual alcohol and drug abuse, adultery, insanity, habitual cruel and inhumane treatment, desertion, and bigamy.
If one spouse asserts a ground for divorce, the other may choose to contest or defend the allegations and convince the court that the allegations that have been made are not truthful. The defending spouse may also seek a divorce and counterclaim with contested divorce grounds. This can result in a long and difficult litigation between the spouses, and complex divorces based on fault can easily last several months or even years. The spouse who has asserted a ground for divorce routinely must prove their allegations by clear and convincing evidence. This is a somewhat higher standard of proof than in many other civil cases, which use the preponderance of the evidence standard.
After one spouse files a Complaint in Divorce, the opposing spouse will be given the opportunity to respond with an Answer and Counterclaim. After the filing of the complaint and answer, there may be a temporary hearing. The temporary hearing is designed to maintain the status quo of the parties and resolves issues relating to temporary use, possession and control of property, temporary child custody and support and temporary spousal support. The parties will then have time to conduct a process known as discovery. Discovery includes the ability to ask each other written questions and obtain documents, such as financial records. Discovery also includes conducting depositions, which are interviews taken under oath. After discovery is completed, a trial will occur in front of a Madison County judge. Both parties will have the opportunity to argue why a certain ground for divorce is, or is not, valid. Depending on the amount of evidence to be presented, these trials can last for a few days or weeks
It is sometimes possible for a party to request that the other spouse pay their attorneys’ fees, such awards do not always happen. Spouses seeking a contested divorce must also be aware that the process can be manipulated and delayed by a spouse who objects to the divorce, making it even more difficult for everyone to move forward with their lives. If you are concerned that you have a spouse who may engage in these types of tactics in order to make your divorce more difficult, it is important to talk with an experienced Ridgeland complex divorce attorney about what you can do to minimize such problems.Seek Legal Guidance from a Knowledgeable and Experienced Attorney in Madison County
If you are considering divorce and believe that there is a good chance that your spouse will contest the divorce, it is very important that you retain a lawyer to represent you. Unlike irreconcilable differences divorce in Mississippi, a divorce that is contested requires participation in the litigation process and a lawyer who is an experienced advocate in the courtroom. An experienced complex divorce attorney can help Ridgeland residents gather evidence to support one or more grounds for seeking a divorce. At the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt, we understand the financial, emotional, and practical challenges that contested divorces present for Mississippi residents, and we are ready to fight for you. For more information, or to schedule an initial consultation with a complex divorce lawyer in the Ridgeland area, contact us online or at (601) 607-5055.