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Blog Post Three

Some would say that there is no such thing as a cheap divorce. While it may not be cheap, there is no reason why it has to be so expensive that a Mississippian can’t afford a divorce he or she wants or to which he or she is entitled. Traditionally, lawyers who represent clients in Mississippi divorce, child custody disputes, and property distribution issues charge a billable hour (the average in Gulfport/Biloxi is around $250/hour) that is backed up by an initial retainer (around $2,500, renewable when initial retainer is exhausted). I, too, bill by the hour – when it is appropriate. But I, and my clients, prefer flexible billing. This is a unique approach to customizing the fee agreement based on each individual client and case. It all starts with an initial consultation in which we discuss the facts of your case, your goals, and how the law is likely to apply. All of this information is used to determine a price plan that works for both you and me. Think of it as a menu, in which each dish can be purchased for a specific price. That price never goes up or down and you are provided with exactly what you order, no more, no less. This gives us both the financial security necessary to achieving your goals.

Why don’t other Mississippi family law attorneys charge this way? I really don’t know why other lawyers charge what they do, or how they determine their fees. I do know that any lawyer that quotes a fee, hourly billing agreement, or retainer, without knowing all of the facts for each individual client, or their client’s goals, is probably selling himself and his client short. I can offer flexible billing that is often less expensive, predictable, and more transparent because of two factors: technology and systems. The continuing advances in technology make my job faster and easier. Simple, well known advances such as email and text messaging allow almost instantaneous communication – no more waiting on the mail for correspondence, or having to leave a voicemail and waiting on return call. Additionally, I have implemented my inter-office procedures by taking advantage of case management software. This reduces the amount of tasks which would typically require personal attention. Call me and let’s discuss what pricing option I can offer you.

Blog Post Two

One of the first questions my clients ask is, “How long until my divorce is finalized?” That’s a tricky question, but the short answer is that it depends. If the parties are seeking a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, agree on the distribution of assets, and have no children, then they can obtain a Mississippi divorce as soon as sixty-one days after the initial filing. That’s the quickest way to get divorced in Mississippi. However, there is also a potentially long way. In a fault-based divorce, where the parties are fighting over everything from the cars in the garage to the pots and pans in the kitchen cabinets, then the divorce process could last up to and over a year. If there are children involved, it could last even longer, as Mississippi courts stay involved in child custody until the child(ren) well after a divorce has been finalized. Please contact me if you are contemplating a Mississippi divorce and I’ll be happy to discuss the entire divorce process with you.

Blog Post One

Does the mother always receive custody of the child? No. In most cases, both the mother and father are awarded some form of legal and physical custody of a child. Of course, there must be a primary physical custodian. When deciding which parent will be awarded custody, the Court’s main concern is what is in the best interest of the child. In making this decision, the Court will utilized the Albright factors:

1.  Age, health and gender of the child.
2.  Parent having continuity of care prior to the separation.
3.  Parent with best parenting skills and willingness and capacity to provide primary child care.
4.  Employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment.
5.  Physical and mental health and age of the parent.
6.  Emotional ties of parent to child.
7.  Moral fitness of the parent.
8.  Home, school and community record of the child.
9.  Preference of the child at age sufficient to express a preference.
10.  Stability of parent’s home environment and employment of each parent.
11. Relative financial situation of the parents.
12. Difference in religion of the parents.
13. Differences in personal values of the parents.
14. Differences in lifestyle of the parents.
15. Other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship.

These fifteen factors are not meant to be used in the manner of a scoring or points system.
This means that the Court may find other factors more important than others. The Chancellor has the ultimate discretion to consider the weight and credibility of all the evidence.

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