Mississippi Family Law Attorneys
DIVISION OF ASSETS AND DEBTS
Upon divorce, the court has the authority to equitably divide the couple’s assets and debts and to award alimony. When deciding how to divide assets and debts, Mississippi law requires the court to follow these steps:
1. The court classifies the parties' assets and debts as “marital” or “non-marital.”
2. The court values and equitably divides the marital property in light of each party’s non-marital property.
3. If the equitably divided marital assets will adequately provide for both parties, then no alimony is awarded.
4. If the equitably divided marital assets leave a deficit for one party, then alimony is considered.
What is Marital Property?
"Marital property” is any and all property acquired or accumulated during the marriage. This may include things like cars, land, houses, and appliances purchased during the marriage or checking, savings, or retirement accounts accumulated
during the marriage. Property classified as "marital" property is subject to " equitable distribution" by the court. Property brought into the marriage by one of the parties
or inherited by one of the parties may qualify as "non-marital" property under certain circumstances and may not be subject to equitable distribution unless it has been commingled with marital property or used for familial purposes. The determination of whether property is “marital” or “non-marital” is fact dependent and may differ from case to case.
Once the court classifies assets as "marital" or "non-marital," the court then may equitably divide and distribute the marital property between the parties. An equitable division may not necessarily be an equal division. The following guidelines are used to equitably divide marital property:
1. Substantial contribution to the accumulation of the marital assets including:
a. Direct or indirect economic contribution to the acquisition of the marital assets;
b. Contribution to the stability and harmony of the marital and family relationships as measured by quality and quantity of time spent on family duties and duration of the marriage;
c. Contribution to the education, training or other accomplishments bearing on the earning power of the spouse accumulating the assets.
2. The degree to which each spouse has expended, withdrawn or otherwise
disposed of marital assets and any prior distribution of such assets by agreement, decree or otherwise.
3. The market value and the emotional value of the assets subject to distribution.
4. The value of assets not ordinarily, absent equitable factors to the contrary, subject to such distribution, such as property brought to the marriage by the parties and property acquired by inheritance or gift by or to an individual spouse.
5. Tax and other economic consequences, and contractual or legal consequences to third parties, of the proposed distribution.
6. The extent to which property division may be utilized to eliminate periodic payments and other potential sources of future friction between the parties.
7. The needs of the parties for financial security with due regard to the combination
of assets, income, and earning capacity.
8. Any other factor which in equity should be considered.