Divorcing couples in Mississippi have the chance to decide on spousal support together, ordinarily with the advice of their attorneys. If the couple cannot agree, a judge will have to make the decision.
Knowing what a judge would consider can help guide the couple in thinking through what to consider together. It can also be a “reality check” leading to a fairer agreement or preparing the couple for what may come down from the bench if they let a judge make the call.
What a judge will probably try to do
Mississippi judges look at “the big picture” to decide on alimony, also known as spousal support. Not much relevant information and not many considerations are out of bounds in their search for the right alimony decision.
Generally, you can expect judges to look for an arraignment that is both fair and can sustain both former spouses over the long run. Where those two goals are incompatible, the judge will balance them as well as they can.
A partial list of factors is the best you can hope for
The judge is both free to and likely to consider factors such as:
- The child custody and visitation arrangements.
- The standard of living the couple experienced together.
- The divvying up of the marital property.
- The ages, incomes and needs of both parties.
- Any chronic or ongoing medical conditions of either party.
- Each spouse’s education, experience and training.
- Any abuse or misconduct, financial misbehavior or other fault by either spouse.
The judge will also consider how much the payments will be, how often and for how long. The payments might be set as periodic over a long time, as one lump sum or as a lump sum paid over several installments.
Deciding for yourselves but thinking about the judge
The idea of a judge taking over a problem that the couple cannot solve themselves is sometimes a strong incentive to return to the bargaining table and settle.
It may be that looking at what the judge would take into consideration may cause a spouse to sober up and realize they already have the best decision they are likely to get.
On the other hand, some overconfident (or under-confident) spouses are surprised to discover what an experienced divorce court thinks is reasonable support, given the total circumstances of each spouse in the past, present and likely future.