Real Estate and Closings
About Family Law
Family law encompasses a wide range of legal topics and issues that arise within family units
and can include matters such as marriage, prenuptial agreements, divorce, child custody,
adoption, and more. Family law is designed to establish legal rights and obligations among
family members and to provide a framework for resolving disputes that may arise within
Divorce is the legal process by which a married couple terminates their marital relationship and ends their marriage. Mississippi has its own laws and procedures governing divorce, and these laws can vary from those in other states.
To file for divorce in Mississippi, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. You can file for divorce in the county where either you or your spouse resides.
If both parties agree to a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, a divorce can be granted as soon as 60 days after filing the petition. If there are contested issues, it may take longer to finalize the divorce.
Mississippi also recognizes fault-based grounds for divorce. Some of the available grounds for divorce in Mississippi include: adultery, habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, habitual drug or alcohol use, and desertion.
Please note that divorce laws and procedures may change over time, so it's essential to consult with an attorney or refer to the most recent state statutes and regulations when considering a divorce in Mississippi.
Child custody in Mississippi refers to the legal arrangement that determines which parent or guardian has the right to make decisions for and provide care to a minor child. In Mississippi, as in many other states, child custody can be divided into two main types: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child's upbringing. These decisions can include matters related to education, healthcare, religious upbringing, and other significant life choices. Joint legal custody typically requires parents to communicate and cooperate in making decisions regarding the child's welfare.
Physical Custody: Physical custody refers to where the child primarily lives and spends their time. Physical custody can be awarded to one parent (sole physical custody) or both parents (joint physical custody). Joint physical custody means that the child spends significant time with both parents, but the exact arrangement can vary depending on what is in the child's best interests.
In Mississippi, as in most states, child custody decisions are made with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration. Courts aim to ensure that custody arrangements promote the child's physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
If you are facing child custody issues in Mississippi, it's advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand your rights and options and to navigate the legal process effectively.
Adoption involves the transfer of all parental rights and responsibilities from a child's biological parents or legal guardians to the adoptive parents. Adoption is a significant and often complex legal procedure that ensures the child's best interests are protected throughout the process.
In Mississippi, the natural parents’ consent is generally required for an adoption to take place, except in cases where a natural parent has passed away, or when parental rights have been terminated by the court due to neglect, abuse, or other legal grounds.
Prospective adoptive parents generally must undergo a home study process, but this process may be waived if the child is being adopted by a relative. This process is typically conducted by a licensed adoption agency or social worker. The child must also be seen by a doctor who will complete a certificate which informs the potential adoptive parents of any physical or mental conditions which may affect the care and wellbeing of the child.
Once all necessary requirements have been met, the adoption petition is filed in Chancery court. A hearing is then held in which the judge reviews the case and, if satisfied that the adoption is in the best interests of the child, issues an adoption decree finalizing the adoption.
In Mississippi, grandparents may seek visitation rights with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. Grandparents seeking visitation must show that it is in the best interests of the child and that there are specific circumstances warranting visitation.
It is important to note that Mississippi law presumes that the rights of fit parents are superior to those of grandparents. This means that courts will generally respect the decisions of parents regarding who has access to their children.
To obtain visitation, grandparents must prove that it is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider various factors, including the child's age, the child's preference (if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express a preference), the child's emotional and physical well-being, and the impact of visitation on the parent-child relationship.
The court may be more likely to grant visitation rights to grandparents if there are specific circumstances that justify it, such as:
A history of providing care and support for the grandchild.
A demonstrated need for grandparent visitation due to the child's well-being.
A showing of parental unfitness or harmful behavior that negatively affects the child.
The death of one or both parents.
A situation in which one parent's parental rights have been terminated.
To seek visitation rights, grandparents typically need to file a petition in the appropriate court, and the court will hold a hearing to consider the case.
Grandparent visitation rights cases can be complex, and the outcome depends on the specific facts of each case. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney in Mississippi is crucial if you are a grandparent seeking visitation with your grandchildren or if you are a parent facing a grandparent visitation petition.
Guardian Ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in Mississippi serves an important role in legal proceedings involving children, particularly in cases of child custody, divorce, abuse and neglect, and other family law matters.
The primary responsibility of a GAL is to represent the best interests of the child or children involved in a legal case when those interests may not align with the wishes or actions of the parents or guardians. The GAL acts as an advocate for the child and provides the court with an independent perspective on what is in the child's best interests. Based on their investigation and assessment, the GAL provides recommendations to the court regarding custody, visitation, and other matters affecting the child.
In Mississippi, the appointment of a GAL is typically made by the court, and their fees may be paid by one or both parties involved in the case or by the court itself, depending on the circumstances.
A legal guardianship is a court-ordered relationship that grants an individual or entity the legal authority and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make decisions for themselves due to age, incapacity, or other factors. Legal guardianships are typically established to provide care and protection for individuals who are minors, incapacitated adults, or adults with disabilities. To establish a legal guardianship in Mississippi, a person interested in becoming a guardian must file a petition in the appropriate court.
A conservatorship is a legal arrangement in which a court appoints a person or entity to manage the financial affairs and assets of a ward. The conservator must act in the best interests of the ward and is subject to court oversight. A conservatorship in Mississippi can be terminated or modified under certain circumstances. For example, if the ward's capacity improves, the court may consider terminating the conservatorship. Similarly, if there is a change in the ward's financial situation or needs, the court may modify the conservatorship.