Emancipation of a Minor with Termination of Child Support

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The State of Mississippi is keenly interested in how and when child support payments are ordered, satisfied, and administered by the courts. After all, “the best interests of the child” are always paramount in the minds of attorneys and judges across the state. But what if an older child begins behaving as if they are on their own? What if the child seems to be living as an adult to the point where continued child support payments don’t seem fair?

At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, we are no strangers to handling Family Law issues like these. Let’s review several scenarios in which Mississippi law may allow the termination of child support payments based on the emancipation of the child – that is, the child’s separation from the authority and control of the parent(s) or legal guardian.

First, we will address situations where Mississippi law itself may automatically end future child support obligations.

  1. Age – Simply getting older may terminate the legal obligation to pay child support. Under Mississippi Law, the parent responsible for paying child support is obligated to continue the payments, as ordered by the court, until the child reaches 21 years of age. At this point, child support obligations are terminated by operation of law.

But the law alone may also terminate child support obligations before the age of 21 in the following limited scenarios:

  1. Marriage – If the child lawfully marries, this action terminates child support obligations. Essentially, the child has started a new family and the child and new spouse are now responsible for their own care.
  2. Full-Time Military Service – Though less romantic than a new marriage, full-time military service may also serve to break a non-custodial parent’s duty to pay child support.
  3. Felony Conviction – If the child is convicted of a felony and sentenced to at least two years of prison as a result, child support obligations may be terminated by law.

And where the law itself does not end child support payments on its own, the courts may also take action to terminate these requirements in certain additional situations:

  1. Child Leaves School – This may end child support obligations if the child is at least 18 and is not disabled.
  2. Voluntarily Moves from the Home – If the child leaves the home of the custodial parent, establishes independent living arrangements, obtains full-time employment, and discontinues educational endeavors, the child may be deemed to be emancipated.
  3. Cohabitation – If the child moves in with another person without the approval of the obligated parent, payments may be terminated.
  4. Temporary Suspension – A court may order child support payments to be temporarily suspended if a child is sentenced to prison, but only until the child is released.

Keep in mind that all of these scenarios require that the court has not previously issued a child support judgement that is in conflict with these rules. For example, if parents agree that child support payments will continue until the child finishes college, the court will likely hold the parties to this agreement and refuse to terminate payment obligations.

And before you move to stop paying child support, know that emancipation of a child does not resolve the issue of any past payments which may be owed. Any existing payments must be satisfied in full.

If you’re beginning to feel like terminating child support obligations can be complicated, you are correct–the advice and guidance of effective and experienced legal counsel can help you navigate these important issues.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade in Ridgeland, MS is prepared to help you see whether the requirements of Mississippi law may apply in your personal situation, and if they do, The Wade Law Firm offers a simple, smart, and affordable flat rate fees for resolving your child support issues.

If you have questions about your personal situation, feel free to contact us at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form to arrange an affordable initial consultation with an experienced Family Law attorney. We are zealous advocates for our clients, and we look forward to assisting you.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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Uncontested Legal Matters: Flat Fee Solutions from The Wade Law Firm

Uncontested Legal Matters | The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland

At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi, we are here to help you with some of life’s most important legal issues. Whether you’re preparing for marriage with pre-nuptial agreement, dealing with the ramifications of a divorce, or planning the affairs of your estate to benefit your loved ones, we look forward to assisting you throughout your journey. And now we are happy to announce a new phase in our practice – a focus on uncontested legal matters.

Many legal proceedings take the form of contested issues, such as a sour divorce or a criminal proceeding. However, most people aren’t aware of the uncontested option allowing significant legal issues to be resolved with little or no conflict or lasting animosity.  Uncontested matters are essentially those that are resolved by agreement between the two parties, which are given the force of law by the relevant court.

SEE ALSO: The Difference Between Uncontested & Contested Legal Matters

Uncontested resolutions are of great advantage to all parties involved since they offer an economical and sensible resolution to serious issues. Attorney Vangela M. Wade, of The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, in Ridgeland offers representation based on a flat fee or many uncontested cases —a huge plus for those looking to smoothly and affordably resolve their personal legal matter.

So what sorts of legal issues may be resolved in an uncontested manner? Most matters eligible for uncontested resolution are Family Law matters such as:

For example, divorce is one of the most common. An Irreconcilable Differences divorce may be obtained in Mississippi when both spouses agree on the necessity of a divorce, the allocation of marital property, and other important specifics. By filing a petition together with the court, the divorce may be granted without the need for making inconvenient or embarrassing pleas before the court. Even more, this is an advisable choice particularly when children are involved. The benefits of uncontested resolution continue well-beyond divorce resolution. Putting enough issues aside to resolve a divorce in an uncontested fashion promotes an amicable parting of ways and avoids creating lingering animosity between the parties or their family members.

And since the issues surrounding child custody, division of property, and resolution of any debts may be harder to agree upon alone, The Wade Law Firm also offers affordable assistance through our mediation or negotiation services. With our trusted counsel serving as a mediator between the spouses, we are prepared to help you iron-out and final wrinkles to your case. Our fee for mediation or negotiation services will depend on the complexity and number of issues to be resolved and this rate will be agreed upon in advance, again bringing predictability and security to the resolution of your legal issues.

Again, proceeding on an uncontested basis saves time, money, energy, and peace of mind. In the interests of providing these advantages to you, The Wade Law Firm plans to concentrate exclusively on handling uncontested legal matters moving forward – bringing your value in our trusted legal counsel at each and every turn.

Choosing The Wade Law Firm, PLLC for your uncontested legal matters means affordable representation (contact us about our flat fees). In addition to saving money, you will be saving time and saving the troubles that come with appearing in court.

To get started with resolving your uncontested legal situation at a flat rate, get in touch with Vangela M. Wade at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form to arrange a consultation with a Family Law, Wills, Estates and Life Planning Attorney with over 18 years of experience.

We are zealous advocates for our clients and look forward to hearing from you.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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Prenuptial Agreements in Mississippi

prenup mississippi

Divorces are on the rise throughout the United States and Mississippi. In fact, a study in 2013 by Bowling Green University found the divorce rate in Mississippi to be the third highest in the country. While that’s no reason to doubt your personal relationships or put such an important life decision as marriage on hold, it does have more and more brides and grooms to-be thinking about prenuptial agreements. At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC, we are here to help.

Often referred to as a “prenup,” these agreements are entered into before a marriage takes place, and is most well-known for resolving how any assets may be divided in the less-than-likely event of a divorce. But prenuptial agreements can also be utilized to decide how or whether spouses can sell or use each other’s property, or just about anything else the couple agrees upon. Once a staple of the “rich and famous,” a prenuptial agreement can be a smart idea for many couples – regardless of income.

So what makes for a valid prenup?

First, know that these agreements aren’t governed by any specific statute or law. Essentially, these agreements are treated like any other contract. That is, the spouses-to-be may enter into any agreement which is legal and does not violate any significant public policy of the State of Mississippi. But, to be enforceable, the agreement must be written and entered into by both parties prior to an anticipated marriage which then comes to fruition. Also, both parties will have to be mentally capable to understand and enter into the agreement at the time of its creation.

That said, there are some things that a prenuptial agreement cannot do. First, the agreement must be conscionable – containing provisions and agreements that are not immoral or unreasonably unfair to one or both parties. And in spite of the sneaky stories you may have heard regarding prenups, an agreement in which one or both parties don’t fully disclose their assets will unlikely be honored. These are not the place for “clever” hiding of assets in order to trick a new spouse out of property of financial interests which may be owed them.

Finally, child custody is not an issue that may be decided using a prenuptial agreement – it’s just too important. As we’ve covered previously on our blog, these matters are always decided “in the best interests of the child,” possibly in spite of the wishes of one or both spouses.

Once a prenuptial agreement is executed, it’s necessary to file the agreement with the Chancery Court. This will ensure that the agreement is available to the court and accepted as legitimate should it be needed later. As you may have guessed, the various important issues subject to a prenuptial agreement are issues you’ll want to address with the help of an experienced and trusted attorney.

Would you like to discuss whether or not a prenuptial agreement is right for you? Do you need help enforcing one or navigating related Family Law issues?

Get in touch with Mississippi Attorney Vangela M. Wade at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form to arrange an affordable consultation. The Wade Law Firm, PLLC has been providing quality legal services for 18 years. We are zealous advocates for our clients and look forward to hearing from you.

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Adoption in Mississippi: Getting Started

adoption mississippi

Getting Started with Adoption in Mississippi

Have you or a loved one ever considered adoption? Adoption can be a great opportunity to improve the life of a child in need while building and growing your happy family. And we at The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Ridgeland, Mississippi are happy to help!

Like all Family Law issues in Mississippi, the rules and procedures for adopting a child are set out in the Mississippi Code; specifically, MS Code Title 19, Chapter 17. So, what are the basic first steps?

First, who can be adopted?

According to the law, anyone may be adopted, although adopting children over 14 years of age will require the child’s consent. Also, adoptions where the birth parents do not consent can quickly become more difficult and complicated.

Who can adopt?

Any adult over the age of 21 years old may adopt. This adult may be single or married.  Further, in April,  U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against  a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples in Mississippi, describing the 16-year-old law as unconstitutional.  

Where should you start?

Adoptions in Mississippi are handled by the Chancery Courts of the various counties. Which county has jurisdiction over the matter will depend on a number of considerations, including: the county in which the prospective adoptive parent(s) may live, where the child was born, or where the child currently lives. Once the proper court is identified, the court will have jurisdiction to oversee the adoption proceeding if one of these scenarios exists:

  •       The child has lived in Mississippi for at least six months.
  •       If the child is younger than six months old, but has lived in Mississippi since soon after his or her birth.
  •       The prospective adoptive parent(s) have lived in Mississippi for at least six months and there is substantial evidence concerning the child’s care in Mississippi.
  •       Both the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the child are in Mississippi, and the child has either been abandoned or needs to be adopted, in emergency, to protect the child from mistreatment, abuse, and neglect.
  •       No other state has more appropriate jurisdiction over the adoption than Mississippi.

family life planning

Getting the ball rolling

Once the prospective parent(s) have identified the proper court, they will start the adoption journey by filing a petition with the court. With the proper documentation and absent any adverse findings by the State or opposition to the adoption by other interested parties, the judge may grant temporary child custody. After this six-month interim period, the judge may finalize a successful and unopposed adoption. In some cases, the judge may even grant the final adoption in a shorter period of time.

Adoption can be complicated

We’ve kept this blog relatively short and simple, but adoption is not always easy and includes numerous legal decisions. To serve the best interests of the child, many legal standards and important rules are included in the adoption process. In short, you’d be smart to hire an experienced Mississippi Family Law attorney.

If adoption is your future, get in touch with me, Attorney Vangela M. Wade at The Wade Law Firm in Central Mississippi. With more than 18 years of legal practice and knowledge of Mississippi Family Law, we’re committed to serving all of our clients with the utmost expertise, diligence, and care and are here to help you navigate through difficult legal matters.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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Family Law and Divorce: A Guide to Important Legal Terms

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At The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in Central Mississippi, we know that legal notions of Family Law, as well as legal terms themselves, have developed and grown over many years. During that transformation, a specialized vocabulary has emerged which can make navigating Family Law disputes difficult to someone other than an experienced attorney. This is especially true for cases and disputes involving divorce. Could you benefit from knowing some basic vocabulary?

Have a look at the divorce terms below, which our colleagues at the American Bar Association have called, “The Language of Divorce.”

  • Action – The legal term for a lawsuit.
  • Alimony – Payment of support from one party to another for that ex-spouse’s financial support. This is sometimes called maintenance. Various forms of alimony include permanent alimony, temporary spousal support, and rehabilitative alimony.
  • Annulment – The legal ending of an invalid marriage, or ending of a marriage within six months after the marriage took place.
  • Child Support – Financial support for a child.
  • Common Law Marriage – A relationship between a man and a woman, recognized as a marriage although no license or ceremony was involved. Mississippi does not recognize common law marriage.
  • Marital Property – Property acquired during a marriage as a result of the spouses’ work and efforts together.
  • Contested Case – Any case in which the court must decide one or more disputed issues.
  • Custody – The legal right and responsibility awarded by a court for care, possession, and raising of a child. Distinctions are sometimes made between legal (decision-making) authority and physical custody.
  • Dissolution – The act of terminating a marriage.
  • Grounds – The reason for granting a divorce according to the law.
  • Joint Custody – The shared right and responsibility of both parents awarded by the court for possession, care, and raising of the children.
  • Joint Legal Property – The parents or parties share the decision-making rights, the responsibilities and the authority relating to the health, education and welfare of a child. An award of joint legal custody obligates the parties to exchange information concerning the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and to confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority.
  • Joint Property – Property held in the name of more than one person, often the parties to the divorce.
  • Marital Settlement Agreement – Often called a property settlement agreement or separation agreement, this written document detailing the parties’ settlement entered is into the court record.
  • Irreconcilable Differences Divorce a/k/a “No Fault Divorce” – A divorce granted without a party having to prove the other party’s marital misconduct, or “fault.” Both spouses must agree to divorce.  Generally, this is an uncontested divorce proceeding in which the parties have reached an agreement on all issues and do not request that the court resolves any disagreement. However, parties can agree to divorce and request the court to decide issues touching the children and property.
  • Order – The court’s ruling on a motion requiring the parties to do certain things or setting forth their rights and responsibilities.
  • Separate Maintenance – According to Bell on Mississippi Family Law  this relief is available to a husband or wife who is financially dependent on the other, and who is not substantially at fault in the separation. A separate maintenance award orders the payor to return home or provide support.  Mississippi law does not provide for legal separation.
  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) – This order of the court prohibits one party from doing something – for example, threatening or harassing the other party or disposing of property.

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While not an exhaustive list of divorce terms, we hope these brief descriptions will help you understand more about the legal issues involved in this important segment of Family Law practice. For Mississippians facing these issues, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC is here to help.

If you have questions about your personal situation or to arrange an affordable initial consultation with an experienced Family Law attorney, contact The Wade Law Firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi at 601-790-0043 or fill out our short contact form. From Family Law to Wills, Estates and Life Planning, we are here to help you navigate through difficult legal contested and uncontested matters.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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Life Planning: Are Your Family and Interests Protected?

Family Law Jackson MS

All phases of life are accompanied by important decisions. Pursuing higher education, choosing a spouse, building a career, starting a family, or buying a home are just a few of these choices, all of which may require the help and advice of trusted legal counsel. But, regardless of our chosen paths, there’s one finality that we all must face – the day we are called home. And when that time comes, it is extremely important that we have taken the time to make sure that our finances, property, and families are taken care of when we are gone.

Life planning is perhaps the most critical moment when a combination of sound legal advice and thoughtful planning are key. How will your spouse and children be taken care of after you pass on? What will happen to your property? What about any bank accounts or other financial interests you hold? Taking a little time to plan for these matters in advance will ensure that your wishes and the best interest of your loved ones are taken care of in your absence.

Are you confident that your life planning efforts are up-to-spec? Take a minute to review The Wade Law Firm’s abbreviated life planning checklist and consider whether your plans include the following essential legal documents:

  • Durable Power of Attorney – to see that your property is cared for by a trusted proxy in line with your desires
  • Trust Arrangement – if necessary, it will help ensure that loved ones are provided for in a responsible manner
  • Advance Directive Health Care – to ensure your healthcare wishes are followed if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself
  • Will – to direct the disposition of your property
  • Life Planning Dossier – to place all legal, personal, and financial papers in a location where they may be easily accessed by your agent or next of kin when needed

family life planning

How do your current life planning efforts stack up? If you aren’t confident that your plans are where they should be, you’d be wise to contact an experienced life planning attorney. Life planning is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process. As your family and finances – and even laws – grow and change, your plans should be reviewed and updated to match current conditions. This is why trusted legal counsel is absolutely indispensable in making these decisions.

With more than 18 years of legal experience in all facets of life planning practice, Attorney Vangela M. Wade is here to serve the needs of clients whose objectives and goals require personalized solutions to their legal needs. Get in touch with The Wade Law Firm, PLLC in the Jackson Metro Area and let us see how we can help you meet your life planning goals. 

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Family Law 2.0 – Don’t Let Social Media Land Your Case in Hot Water

social-media-legal

We all love using social media in our daily lives. It’s a quick and useful way to share opinions, news, or even just fun photos with friends and loved ones. But, if you aren’t careful with what you put on social media, your latest post can become a major liability. Smart use of social media is a great policy for everyone, but it is particularly important for people who may be involved in a legal dispute.

This is especially true if you find yourself involved in legal matters involving a family law issue such as child custody or divorce proceedings. That’s because lawyers across the country are increasingly turning to social media in order to find evidence that may be used against opposing litigants. For example:

  •       A Facebook picture of a brand new car may be used as evidence that an individual is capable of paying more child support, or that the individual has been concealing income from the court.
  •       An Instagram photo of a spouse in a social setting with another suspected love interest might support claims that the spouse has been unfaithful.
  •       Social media posts involving profanity, weapons, or threatening material could be used to show that one parent is not one whose custody of a son or daughter is, “in the best interest of the child.”

These scenarios are not only limited to family law matters. Ill-advised social media posts have even been used by law enforcement to link suspects to narcotics offenses and other crimes.

social media and legal issues

So what should you do to make sure that your use of social media doesn’t become a problem for you or your loved ones?

First, exercise caution before you post. As long as you are making smart choices – both on and offline – your social media activity should not become the subject of any unwanted attention. Remember, professional investigators can easily find evidence on your social media profiles, even after it has been deleted.

Also, make sure that your privacy settings are enabled and that people you are not acquainted with are unable to view your pages and accounts.

Consider using an account name other than your real name. This will ensure that you only share posts, pictures, and opinions with your real “friends” – those whom you have shared your details with, and not individuals who may not have your best interests at heart.

Finally, do not be tempted to log in to someone’s social media accounts without his or her permission. Doing so could be illegal, and the information you find may not be allowed in court.

Staying smart regarding one’s use of social media is an important rule for all of us to follow, but exercising caution is especially important for those involved in domestic legal proceedings or otherwise subject to chancery court orders. Any content you post, tweet, or share could result in serious consequences. That’s why all family law issues are best resolved with the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to leverage advanced tools of investigation with intricate knowledge of the law in your pursuit of justice.

Are you in need of help with a legal question or issue? Get in touch with me, Vangela M. Wade at The Wade Law Firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi. With more than 18 years of legal practice and knowledge of Mississippi Family Law, The Wade Law Firm, PLLC is committed to serving all of our clients with the utmost expertise, diligence, and care. Contact me at The Wade Law Firm, online or call 601.790.0043 for an initial, affordable consultation.

Attorney Vangela M. Wade

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