Law Blog

How to Know When You Have the Wrong Attorney

Monday, May 4, 2020 

Frequently I am hired by clients who had a bad experience with their previous attorney.  They may be unhappy for a number of reasons, for instance:  their lawyer won’t return their calls or emails; their lawyer is never available; the lawyer never provides them with any information about what is happening with their case; they don’t feel like their lawyer(s) cares about their case; or their lawyer promised everything but is delivering (or has delivered) nothing. 

 

BE ADVISED:  Choosing the right lawyer many times is the difference between winning and losing.  Choose your attorney wisely – and not just based on how high up in the Google results they may be.   

How to Know What Attorney You Should NOT Hire

Friday, May 1, 2020 

Hiring an attorney can be scary, stressful, and expensive.  Even the prospect of hiring an attorney can be stressful.  The following questions may run through you mind: 

 

How do I know who to hire? 

How do I know the attorney will work on my case and FOR me?  

How do I know whether the attorney has enough experience to be successful for me?

How do I know if the attorney is more interested in MY interests than their own? 

How do I know whether the fees/retainer quoted are fair?

 

Outrageous retainer fees for short-term representations.  Incredibly too-good-to-be-true cheap fees.  What’s the difference in the two?  The outrageously expensive lawyer may be “soaking” the client, and the incredibly cheap lawyer may only get you the services of a secretary.  Cheaper IS NOT always better, and more expensive does not always get you an advantage.

 

On the other hand, I’ve been hired by clients who have told me that their last lawyer’s representation agreement specifically stated that the lawyer would not be responsible for returning telephone calls.  I’ve also heard of lawyers scheduling an initial consultation with a prospective client without advising them beforehand that their consultation fee is $500.00, only to be presented with that bill at the end of the consultation.  These are excellent examples of a lawyer whose primary interests are NOT their clients.

 

Get to know anyone before hiring them.  Ask questions about them.  Make certain they are battle-tested in the courtroom.  Make certain they have the experience necessary to handle your case.  And perhaps most importantly, make certain they will listen to you and be available to answer any questions you may have.

How to Know Who the Right Attorney Is for You

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

 

Any attorney worth having is interested in LISTENING first to your problems, getting to know your values, and understanding your objectives at the outset of any matter.  The old saying that we were given two ears to hear and only one mouth to speak with, so we should listen twice as much as we speak, is so true – especially for LAWYERS.  Unfortunately, some lawyers don’t know how to listen – only talk about themselves.

 

An attorney who is primarily interested in selling themselves to you is not HEARING you.  Sure, you want a proven winner.  But proven winners don’t have to constantly sell to people who they are and how good they are.  A good attorney is obvious to their prospective clients.

 

Call me.  Schedule an appointment and get to know me.  Read about me.  Ask your friends and colleagues what they know about me.  Decide for yourself if I am a good fit for you.  Allow me to hear about your problem so that I can give you an honest assessment of your case and quote you a fee or retainer. 

Working with an Attorney

 Monday, April 27, 2020

 

During any type of litigation you will be given plenty of advice.  This is especially true in divorces.  Well-intentioned neighbors, family members, hairdressers, and complete strangers will be happy to tell you their war stories about their ex, or about their sister who got divorced in Alabama (or somewhere else).  Many will insist they know what you should do, even though they haven’t the foggiest idea about the facts of your case or the law.

 

But there is one person whose advice should matter most to you:  your attorney.  Your lawyer should be your most trusted and supportive advocate at all times during your divorce.  The advice you get from your lawyer can affect your life for years to come.  You will never regret taking the time and energy to choose the right attorney for you – one who not only knows what they are doing and will take the time to listen to you and understand what you want, but one who is BATTLE TESTED in the courtroom.

 

Your relationship with your attorney should be viewed as a partnership for pursuing what is most important to you. With open attorney-client communication, you’ll have the best outcome possible and your entire divorce will be less stressful.

 

By working closely with the right lawyer, you can trust the professional advice you receive (and you can simply say “thank you” to your cousin Millie for sharing her advice).

Contracts - Read Before You Sign Anything!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Mississippi Court of Appeals in Brown v. Anderson stated that parties to a contract have an inherent duty to read the terms of the contract prior to signing, and the fact that a person claims they did not read the contract before it was signed is no defense.  In the case, the Browns signed a contract to purchase a home.  The contract stated that Brown had inspected the property and accepted the property in its “as is” condition.  Additionally, the contract provided for the opportunity for Brown to have a pre-closing inspection by a home inspector of his choice.  At closing, Brown signed a release stating that he had inspected the property and that the mechanical components of the home (i.e., plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems) we in good working order.  However, several weeks after closing Brown claimed that these systems were not in good working order, and sued the prior owner among others. 

After Brown put on his case at trial, the Circuit Court Judge granted the prior owners a directed verdict (meaning that the Court dismissed Brown’s case).  The Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the trial court. 

If nothing else is learned from this case, it is this:  READ BEFORE YOU SIGN!

 

How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Mississippi law provides that it is presumed to be detrimental to a child and therefore not in a child 's best interest for the Court to grant custody to a parent who has a history of perpetrating acts of family domestic violence. 

 

What does "family domestic violence" mean for purposes of application of that law?   It means that a person has shown a pattern of family violence against a member of the household or has committed at least one incident of family violence that results in serious bodily injury. 

 

A plain reading of this statute reveals the following simple truth:  a parent should not have custody of his/her child if that parent has a history of violence toward the family.

 

Stay safe everyone. 

Easter - A Celebration of God's Grace and Jesus' Victory Over Death

April 9, 2020

Happy Easter.  I hope you all have a wonderful time with family.  More importantly, I hope that you take the time to remember God's Grace through Jesus' sacrifice and victory over death that allows us to have hope and reassurance that through a relationship with Jesus we are forgiven of our sins and can have an eternal life in Heaven with God.

Happy Easter everyone, and stay safe and well.

Child Support Payments After You've Been Laid Off During the Coronavirus Crisis

April 1, 2020

You've been laid off due to your employer's shut-down during this Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  You have lost your income and don't see any income coming in during the next 30 or 60 days.  What do you do about your child support obligation?

First, you must recognize that you are under a court order to pay it.  The custodial parent has NO authority to suspend the obligation or to forgive the obligation.  Only the Court can do that.

 

Second, talk to the custodial parent (even if you are not on good terms with them).  Follow that conversation up with a text message confirming that you told the custodial parent that you had been laid off and don't have any income coming in.

 

Third, have an attorney immediately file a petition for modification of your child support obligation with the Court.  This will serve to place the Court on immediate notice that you have lost your job and that you are not simply ignoring the obligation. 

 

Fourth, do whatever you can to get some type of income.  Apply for unemployment benefits.  Apply for jobs with employers who are hiring (i.e., Wal-Mart, Kroger, anybody).  This demonstrates to the Court that you are trying to earn an income. 

 

Fifth, but most important, PRAY that this pandemic ends quickly so things will go back to normal and you can return to your work.

 

Stay safe.

 

To schedule an appointment, please contact my office at 601-927-8195 or email me at jon@jonhpowell.com.

No-Fault Divorce: the 60 Day Waiting Period

March 27, 2020

ALL divorces based on Irreconcilable Differences, Mississippi's no-fault divorce, REQUIRE a sixty (60) day waiting period.  It CANNOT be waived for ANY reason.  The statute is clear.  

This sixty (60) day waiting period is a "cooling off" period.  However, even if all the paperwork is signed and you are just waiting on the sixty (60) days to run, that does not mean you are not married.  This is important because at any time during the sixty (60) day period your spouse can withdraw his/her consent to the divorce and stop the divorce.   Further, during the sixty (60) day period, you can still be sued for divorce based on a fault ground (even if the event or occurrence which constitutes the fault ground - such as adultery - occurs during the sixty (60) day period).

Fair warning:  The no fault divorce is not complete until the Judge signs the Judgment of Divorce AFTER the sixty (60) day period.

To schedule an appointment, please contact my office at 601-927-8195 or email me at jon@jonhpowell.com.

Isolation Due to Coronavirus Results in Too Much Togetherness

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Because of the warnings and recommendations of the CDC and State Health Officials, much of our population is remaining at home in quarantine, making trips to the grocery store, work, or doctor's office only when necessary.  This is good in the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus (aka coronavirus).  However, the isolation with family during this time will also likely result in numerous new divorce filings afterwards.

 

Many divorce attorneys, myself included, see a major surge in divorce filings after the Christmas holidays and other times/events when the husband and wife have had too much time together.  At the beginning of the relationships, I'm sure they wanted to spend all their time together.  But that changed over the years.  Its simply a fact of life in this day and time.    

If your marriage is on the brink of ending, and marriage counseling has not worked, contact me to discuss your options.  A good outcome in any case, divorce included, often depends on the amount of advanced preparation and gathering of information.

Feel free to contact me at 601-706-2915 to schedule an appointment.  If you have been exposed to sickness, I'll be happy to schedule a consultation via telephone.

And yes, I'm still open for business despite in the midst of this pandemic.

 

The Coronavirus Prepping Guide

Monday, March 23, 2020

In December of 2018, I posted a blog to this website titled "The Responsible Adult 'Prepper' Guide".  Given what our country (and the world) is facing now, I thought the December 2018 blog should be shared anew (with some changes).  So here it is:

The internet is full of "Prepper" websites for what many believe is the coming apocalypse or as they call it "SHTF" which is an acronym for (excrement) hitting the fan [think now Coronavirus, the economy, the panic, etc].  While we are in the midst of perilous and fearful times, here is The Coronavirus "Prepping" Guide for you to consider and put into motion:

1. Get an Advance Healthcare Directive prepared.  This is a written document where you make your healthcare decisions known, including end of life decisions.  Having an Advance Healthcare Directive will not only make your wishes known as to your medical treatment, but it will spare your loved ones from having to make potentially life or death decisions for you.  A copy of this should be provided to every doctor you see and every hospital to visit.  And even if you provided the hospital this document before, take them a copy every time you go in. 

 

2. Designate Payable on Death beneficiaries on all your accounts.  Make certain all of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and any other money or investment accounts you maintain have a payable on death beneficiary designation.  This will allow that money and those accounts in most situations to pass outside of your estate and directly to the person you designate as the death beneficiary.

3. Get a power of attorney.  Also, whoever you designate as your power of attorney must be someone you trust completely to handle your business the way you want it handled.  If you have a child or spouse who is an alcoholic or drug addict or a financial train wreck, do NOT designate them as your attorney in fact.

 

4. Get a Will.  Meet with an attorney and fully discuss your assets and what your wishes are at the time of your death.  An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft an estate plan that achieves what you want done.  Additionally, the cost of having an attorney draft an effective estate plan for most people is many times less than what you pay for a one month mortgage payment, and will save your heirs many times that amount if done correctly.

 

5. Leave a file folder labeled "In Case of Death or Disability" somewhere in your home where your spouse or children can easily locate it.  In this folder, you need to list where all of your accounts are located  and contact information for any retirement plan administrator or investment broker.  Also, leave either a copy of your Will (NOT the original) and your power of attorney in the folder or the location of where they are located.  Also, if you have a long-term care policy or prepaid burial policy, put a copy of that in the folder.  In other words, anything of importance that someone responsible would need to locate at the time of your disability or death should be in this folder.

​6. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! and be wise with money.  There is nothing sadder than trying to help someone explore options for a sick or incapacitated family member, only to find out that they have little or no options because they have no savings.  Hoard cash if possible.  Be wise with money.   

​7. Repair family relationships.  While this may seem odd advice on a lawyer's website, your family will be your go-to support system in most cases.  If there needs to be some fence-mending, get that done NOW.  Don't wait.  We are never promised another day.  If you can't do this out of selfish reasons, then do it for those you will leave behind.

​8.  Be prepared to be flexible in the ways of doing things.  This is a different world.  The old ways of doing things are probably not what will work during this time.  Meetings may all be virtual or be via phone.  Documents once mailed will now likely be required to be digitally transmitted (email, etc.).  Workers may now office from home and telecommute.  Cash, now seen as germ carriers, may out of necessity need to be spent via mostly credit or debit (which really goes against my mindset).  Family meetings and visits (for now) may need to be via Facetime.

9.  Be Thankful.  We are still the wealthiest, most blessed people on the face of the earth.  Be thankful for the food on your table, the roof over your head, the money in your pocket, and the clothes on your back.  Billions of people around the earth would love to have what we have.

10.  Wash your hands, don't touch your face, use good hygiene, and avoid crowds.  We have to do our part in stopping the transmission of this virus.

11. Pray.  Now is a time to talk to God.  He knows your heart.  He hears your prayers.  He loves it when you go to Him.  He is faithful.

12.  Make peace with whomever you believe is your Maker.  For me, the single most important preparation costs you nothing, is free for the taking, and is for everyone who is willing to receive that gift.  It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God's only Son.  (See John 3:16).  

Together we will get through this.

For information on Advance Healthcare Directives, a Will or a Power of Attorney, please contact my office at 601-706-2915.

Separate Maintenance

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Separate Maintenance is a claim that can be filed by one spouse when the other spouse has left the marriage leaving the other spouse without the benefit of the leaving spouse's normal contributions to the household, including financial contributions.  In a separate maintenance action, the spouse that did not leave is asking the Court to enter an order which requires the leaving spouse to either (1) return to the marriage, or (2) pay to the other spouse separate maintenance payments for their monthly support and maintenance.  Separate maintenance payments are NOT alimony payments.  The separate maintenance payments may be stopped by the spouse who left by returning to the marriage and resuming all of the "duties" of marriage, including the duty to support the other spouse.  

Often, one spouse wants to leave a marriage but cannot prove a fault grounds for divorce, and the other spouse will not agree to an irreconcilable differences divorce.  If the spouse wanting out of the marriage files a fault ground divorce, the spouse not wanting the divorce can file a counter-complaint for separate maintenance.  

If you have a spouse who has left you without support, consider the option of filing a separate maintenance action.

For more information, contact my office.

The "No-Fault" Divorce: Still a Waiting Game

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

I often hear the question: "If everything is agreed on and we sign the papers, why does it take so long for a no-fault divorce?"  The answer is simple but not liked:  the statute requires the waiting period.

 

In order to get a divorce on irreconcilable differences (the "no-fault" divorce"), the statute requires that there be a minimum waiting period of not less than 60 days from the date of the filing (not signing) of the Joint Complaint for Divorce.  Therefore, regardless of whether everything is agreed upon and you don't want to wait, the Court cannot and will not enter a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences until 60 days have lapsed from the filing of the Joint Complaint.  That does not mean that on the 60th day the divorce will be finalized.  On the 61st day after the filing of the Joint Complaint, your lawyer is free to attempt to get the Court's signature on the divorce decree.

For some, this is another example of Hurry up and Wait.

Social Media and Divorce: A Dangerous Combination

Friday, January 4, 2019

My clients repeatedly hear me tell them that if what they have to say, text, post on Social Media, or email cannot be repeated or read on Sunday morning standing next to your pastor in front of a full church congregation, then you don't need to say it or write it.  And if there is any doubt - then go without!

Social media and texts have become a goldmine for evidence in divorces and child custody cases.  People just cannot seem to restrain themselves.  Further, it seems that those who are on Social Media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) just cannot resist the impulse to post something that they shouldn't.  Guess who's watching those posts . . . that's right, the other side and their attorney.  And you can be guaranteed that these posts will be used in Court against you.

The best advice while going through a divorce or custody battle is to stop texting and posting to Social Media.  It is a minor and temporary inconvenience that will pay massive dividends in your case.  If you cannot resist the urge to post or text, then don't do it while you are angry or upset.

Trust me on this.

Starting the Year Off with a Plan

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The fast-approaching new year brings about a new start.  Start with a plan.  An estate plan.

If you don't have a Will, don't delay any longer.  Leaving an estate without a plan is deciding that you are content with leaving a mess for your loved ones to clean up.  Do them (and yourself) a favor and schedule an appointment with me to get your estate plan in place.  An estate plan can be as simple as a simple Will.  The simplest of Wills is much better than having no estate plan at all.  Additionally, scroll down to my last blog post (The "Responsible Adult" Prepper Guide) for some tips on estate planning that you can do.

If you have a Will but it hasn't been updated in several years, or if there have been some life-changing evients that occurred since the Will was made, schedule an appointment with me to review the Will to see if it does what it needs to do still.

Remember:  failing to plan is itself a plan to fail.

The "Responsible Adult" Prepper Guide

Friday, December 7, 2018

The internet is full of "Prepper" websites for what many believe is the coming apocalypse or as they call it "SHTF" which is an acronym for (excrement) hitting the fan.  While we wait for the coming apocalypse, here is the "Responsible Adult" prepper guide for you to consider:

 

1. Make certain all of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and any other money or investment accounts you maintain have a payable on death beneficiary designation.  This will allow that money and those accounts in most situations to pass outside of your estate and directly to the person you designate as the death beneficiary.

 

2. Never leave the death beneficiary of a life insurance policy to your "Estate" unless it is solely for the purpose of providing the Estate money to pay your Estate taxes with.

 

3. Get a power of attorney.  Also, whoever you designate as your power of attorney must be someone you trust completely to handle your business the way you want it handled.  If you have a child or spouse who is an alcoholic or drug addict or a financial train wreck, do NOT designate them as your attorney in fact.

 

4. Get a Will.  Meet with an attorney and fully discuss your assets and what your wishes are at the time of your death.  An experienced estate planning attorney can help you draft an estate plan that achieves what you want done.  Additionally, the cost of having an attorney draft an effective estate plan for most people is many times less than what you pay for a one month mortgage payment, and will save your heirs many times that amount if done correctly.

 

5. Leave a file folder labeled "In Case of Death or Disability" somewhere in your home where your spouse or children can easily locate it.  In this folder, you need to list where all of your accounts are located  and contact information for any retirement plan administrator or investment broker.  Also, leave either a copy of your Will (NOT the original) and your power of attorney in the folder or the location of where they are located.  Also, if you have a long-term care policy or prepaid burial policy, put a copy of that in the folder.  In other words, anything of importance that someone responsible would need to locate at the time of your disability or death should be in this folder.

6. Get out of debt and SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!  There is nothing sadder than trying to help someone explore options for a sick or incapacitated family member, only to find out that they have little or no options because of debt and no savings.  

7. Repair family relationships.  While this may seem odd advice on a lawyer's website, your family will be your go-to support system in most cases.  If there needs to be some fence-mending, get to it NOW.  Don't wait.  We are never promised another day.  If you can't do this out of selfish reasons, then do it for those you will leave behind.

8.  Make peace with whomever you believe is your Maker.  For me, the single most important preparation costs you nothing, is free for the taking, and is for everyone who is willing to receive that gift.  It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, God's only Son.  (See John 3:16).  

To Move Out or Not to Move Out In a Divorce - That is the Question!

Monday, November 19, 2018

In a divorce, should you move out of the home or stay put!  That is the question that deserves a lot of thought.

In the past, most attorneys advised their clients to NOT move out of the home under any circumstances.  However, that advice may not always be the best advice in every situation today.

If you have children, moving out could almost be looked at by the other side as conceding the issue of physical custody.  Additionally, how would your moving out affect the children?  If the move is for the betterment of yourself AND your children, then perhaps moving out is the best thing to do.  If you intend to argue that the other parent is verbally abusive, neglectful, or should not have custody of the children, then your moving out may signal to the Court that you are comfortable leaving the children in the care of your spouse - and contradict your claims that your spouse should not have custody.

If you move out, you will not be waiving any claim to property rights in the home or furniture.  Those claims will survive your move so long as you don't abandon your request that the marital estate be divided.

These are just some of the considerations to consider before moving out.  

Decide wisely.  Also, consider consulting with an experienced divorce attorney before making your decision. 

Alimony - Will the New Tax Laws Change Things?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Under the Trump tax cuts (i.e., the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)), periodic and rehabilitative alimony payments appear to have been significantly affected regarding the payor's ability to deduct same on their tax returns.  The best information available appears to indicate that any alimony payments that were otherwise deductible prior to the enactment of the TCJA will continue to be deductible IF the alimony payments are ordered prior to January 1, 2019.  In other words, those alimony payments that are court ordered and subject to being deducted prior to January 1, 2019, will continue to be deductible by the payor (and taxable as income to the payee).  This means that beginning January 1, 2019, the past benefit of being able to deduct from the payor's income periodic and rehabilitative alimony payments will be discontinued for any alimony obligations ordered by the Court on January 1, 2019 and after.

Alienation of Affection 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Alienation of Affection cases are civil lawsuits which a spouse can bring against the boyfriend or girlfrield of their spouse and seek money damages as a result of their intentional or negligent acts which causes the loss of your spouse's affections toward you. 

 

Recently, alienation of affection lawsuits have brought scrutiny as being outdated and unnecessary.  Is alienation of affection an out-dated, backwoods, old tyme cause of action that should be done away with?

 

Let’s say you spent $30,000 for a new truck.  Over the years you changed its oil, antifreeze, belts, purchased new tires for it, washed and waxed it a couple times per year, and safely locked it in a garage each night.  You baby it, taking care to not accelerate or brake too hard.  Over the years, you invested your time, energy and money into keeping it looking and running great.  You love your truck - it’s a part of you - perhaps even a part of your identity. . . Then someone steals your truck.

 

Or let’s say you spent $300 for a Labrador retriever puppy.  Over the years, you feed it, play with it, train it, and it comes to be an integral part of your family. . .Then someone entices your beloved pet and companion with some food, and the dog doesn’t come back home.

 

As absurd as these examples are, how much more would you hurt if someone did the same thing to you, taking your spouse (instead of your truck or your pet) whom you devoted your past and planned for the future with?

 

Alienation of affection lawsuits are as worthwhile a cause of action as personal injury actions - perhaps even more worthwhile.  In cases involving alienation of affection actions the injury and loss to your emotional and physical well-being and those of the rest of the family can be just as devastating. 

 

Preserving a cause of action which may deter someone from interfering with your marriage  (and which may have the effect of keeping families together) is not out-dated, backwoods, or old tyme at all.  Instead, I think its very timely indeed.

Prince and Aretha - No Will Creates Chaos

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

After both Prince and Aretha Franklin passed away, many (including me) were surprised that such wealthy celebrities as these two would not take the time to make a Will or create an Estate Plan for their millions of dollars.  With their many millions of dollars in assets and royalties pouring in, I would have expected that at some point their lawyers and agents would have advised them to "take care of business" before their passing so that "Purple Rain" wouldn't fall on those who may be left after their passing.  Their Estates have been left in chaos and - in the case of Prince's Estate - many have come forward claiming to be heirs and entitled to a portion of his estate.

Don't leave a mess for others to clean up after you are gone.  Do your family a favor and get your Estate Plan created so your survivors don't end up having to guess what you would have wanted - or worse yet, have your estate be divided according to the law.  For most people, a proper Will is inexpensive and uncomplicated.

Show your family and loved ones some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Get your Estate in order.

Some DIY Estate Planning You Can Do

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

 

Some of the most effective Estate Planning involves those things that you can do yourself.  Consider the following:

(1) Designate "payable on death" (POD) beneficiaries on all of your bank accounts;

(2) Make certain your retirement accounts have death beneficiaries designated on them;

(3) Look at the deed to your home and other real estate to see if it is owned with someone else as "joint tenants with full rights of survivorship"; and

(4) Title your automobiles jointly with someone else using the connector "or" instead of "and".

Not all of these are appropriate in every situation.  However, these are examples of things you can do to keep certain assets from having to go through an estate proceeding.  

 

Contact me to discuss these and other plannning tips. 

The Runaway Divorce Train

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Divorces are life-changing events.  They are emotion-filled.  They are scary at times.  In the worst circumstances, they can become akin to a run-away train.

Divorces don't necessarily have to be adversarial in all cases.  Divorces can actually be an opportunity to make a necessary change in your life without skewering the other spouse and their reputation.  However, to do this generally requires two people who are willing to seek a resolution and to act reasonably toward each other.  In other words, the key goal must NOT be to harm the other person as much as possible.

Lawyers see what most divorcing couples cannot see at the beginning of the divorce: that is, if it is expensive to live together with two incomes, it is going to be difficult to live separately with just one income.  And then there's the problem with who gets the debt.  And if children are involved, who gets to pay child support.  And if alimony is an issue. . .

 

The best strategy for any couple who cannot continue in their marriage is to try to reach a resolution to as many issues as possible.  Otherwise, the divorce can (and many times does) turn ugly and the lawyers (me included) end up getting a substantial part of the marital pie that could otherwise be salvaged and used by the parties for their own future needs.  Too often I have to remind clients that the cost of pursuing something may not be worth it in the end when you consider things such as time (i.e., closure) and the cost in attorney's fees.

However, if the goal is to cause as much harm and create as much chaos in the life of the other party. . ."All aboard" for the Runaway Train!

 

Gathering Evidence for Court

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

You are the greatest source of evidence for any case you may ever have to present in Court.  In gathering and producing evidence, it is imperative that you adhere to the following rules:

 

  1. Do NOT mark on, write on, alter, etc. anything that you believe may be used as evidence!  Any such alterations in most cases will result in the evidence being unusable in Court (i.e. inadmissible).

  2. It is most cost-effective and efficient for you to produce as much evidence that you can obtain.  You have access to and can gather most of the evidence that is beneficial to your case.  Therefore, any social media posts, cell phone records, bank statements, letters, text messages and emails which you believe are pertinent to your case should be gathered and delivered to your lawyer as soon as possible.  Allow your lawyer to determine what is most relevant and beneficial to your case as early as possible.   

  3. Any evidence that you have MUST be provided to your lawyer far enough in advance of trial for the attorney to review and prepare for use at trial and, if required, to produce the evidence to the opposing side.

  4. In many cases, electronic copies are as valid as the original.  If you cannot locate the original but have copies, provide those to your attorney.

  5. Text messages that are used as evidence should be screen shot in their entirety with the date and time shown on the text strings.  Any text messages that are altered in any way cannot be used.  Additionally, partial text strings are objectionable and may not be admissible in Court.

Being a Parent. . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Being a parent requires you to RESPECT and ENCOURAGE a relationship with the other parent, especially when the parents are divorced.   This is the absolute least a parent can do for their children.

Unfortunately there are times when this does not occur and in some situations one parent alienates the children from the other parent.  My view of this:  It is nothing less than a form of CHILD ABUSE.  This should not be tolerated.  

When this occurs, who is hurt?  Obviously, the alienated parent is hurt.  However, the most affected victim are the children themselves.  Children NEED and DESERVE a relationship with both parents.  Lies by one parent told to the children about the other parent are too many times believed.  

 

I see this too often in my work.  Unfortunately, many of our Judges begin rolling their eyes at their first hearing of alienation when custody is at issue.  To be successful in proving that one parent alienated the children from another parent, you often have to prove overwhelmingly both the acts of alienation committed by the one parent and the resulting effect on the children and their relationship with the alienated parent.

If you have negative feelings about the other parent, do your children a favor:  Do NOT voice those negative feelings to or in the presence of your children.  Your children will be healthier and happier if you heed this advice.

601.706.2915

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1084 Flynt Drive

Suite D

Flowood, MS 39232