Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

Any divorce, regardless of whether there are children involved, is a painful ordeal. Discussing in great detail about sensitive family issues such as infidelity, custody of children, division of assets and child support can be stressful. Even amicable divorces bring with them a certain level of stress because the decisions involving child custody, visitation rights and property division impact all involved.

In this difficult time, it is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer to ensure that you are treated fairly. Your divorce lawyer, in addition to being well-versed in the law, should have experience negotiating and litigating cases. Brandon attorney Mel Coxwell has successfully negotiated the settlement of thousands of cases. When settlement was not possible, Mr. Coxwell aggressively represented his clients in trials in federal courts, circuit courts, chancery courts, county courts, justice courts and municipal courts throughout Mississippi.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding divorce.

How quickly can I obtain a divorce?

A divorce based on irreconcilable differences (no fault) can be granted 60 days after filing the complaint for divorce. Divorces based on fault grounds generally take much longer.

What is a temporary hearing?

If the parties are unable to agree on child custody, support, use and possession of the marital domicile, use and possession of automobiles, and payment of existing debts, the court will hold a hearing to temporarily decide these issues until the case is concluded.

How will marital property be divided?

Mississippi is an equitable distribution state. All property acquired during the course of the marriage is presumed to be marital property. Once the judge in your case has classified each asset and liability as marital or nonmarital, the marital property will be divided equitably. This may produce a 50-50 split between the parties, but equitable distribution does not require a 50-50 split. A judge's decision will be based on the unique facts of each case.

How are child custody issues decided?

The factors used by a judge to award custody include, age, health and sex of the child, who was the child's primary caregiver prior to separation, parenting skills of parents, capacity to provide primary child care and employment responsibilities, physical and mental health of the parents, age of the parents, alcohol and drug use, emotional ties of parent and child, moral fitness, home, school and community record of child, preference of a child 12 years or older, stability of home and employment of each parent and any other relevant factors.

What are the various types of custody?

The court will address both legal and physical custody. Joint legal custody is typically awarded and gives both parents equal decision-making authority regarding health, education, religious upbringing and other important matters. Usually, one parent is awarded primary physical custody and the other parent is awarded visitation, although both parents can share physical custody equally as well.

Are my spouse's retirement benefits considered marital property?

Yes. However, the valuation and division of retirement accounts depends on both state and federal law. Mr. Coxwell will explain Mississippi law to you while he works on your case.

What are the different types of divorce?

In Mississippi, there are three types (or reasons) for divorce:

  1. The first type is due to irreconcilable differences and is agreed upon by both spouses. In this type of divorce, no establishment of fault is required. The couple simply agrees that the marriage is irreparable and that divorce is the only option; it is also referred to as a "no-fault divorce." For this type of divorce to proceed, both parties must agree to all the terms set forth in the divorce settlement.
  2. The second type is irreconcilable differences, but the parties do not agree on all the terms. The disputed terms will be presented to a judge who will make a binding decision regarding division of assets, child custody and visitation rights. Both parties must agree to submit the disputed terms to the judge.
  3. The third type of divorce is a "fault grounds divorce," in which one spouse claims the marriage is ending as a result of the other spouse being guilty of any of the following:
  • Adultery
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug use
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment

In this type of divorce, a judge will oversee a trial, and the lawyer must prove the guilt of the accused spouse. If the couple does not settle on their own, the judge will decide the financial and custodial aspects of the divorce.

It is important to choose a lawyer who will listen to you and make recommendations that will help you arrive at the best outcome possible. We welcome the opportunity to answer your questions about any aspect of family law and recommend an effective course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Mel Coxwell at 601-724-8723 or email us to schedule your confidential consultation.