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Divorce in Benton County
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Online Divorce in Benton County
Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in Benton County, Mississippi, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.
If you want to file your divorce papers in a quick and cheap way in Benton County, MS, OnlineDivorce.com is the right place to start. OnlineDivorce.com is an online divorce documents preparation service that enables divorcing couples to start divorce proceedings in the fastest and easiest way.
Today, Benton County allows divorcing couples to have a do-it-yourself divorce, in which spouses complete and file the divorce paperwork without a lawyer. However, you do not have to search for correct court forms and study the peculiarities of divorce law to have an uncontested divorce in Benton County, MS by yourself. We can do it all for you. OnlineDivorce.com provides its clients with up-to-date information on all aspects of dissolution of marriage, cherry-picked for each unique case.
After you finish a simple questionnaire on OnlineDivorce.com, you will get printable court forms and filing instructions. The DIY kit you receive will be state-specific and prepared specifically for your unique circumstances.
To make sure that your divorce documents are error-free and compliant with your state’s requirements, OnlineDivorce.com keeps up-to-date with all state and local regulations and only uses court-approved documents. To avoid any problems with the court or the proceedings, OnlineDivorce.com provides you with clear instructions and walks you through every step of the divorce process. From easy to use functions to affordable prices, OnlineDivorce.com is the perfect solution for divorcing couples who want to handle dissolution of marriage in a stress-free and effective manner.
Although DIY divorces are usually uncontested, if any obstacles occur along the way, such as the spouse refusing to get served or becoming uncooperative over child custody, support, and/or division of marital assets, these matters can be resolved through mediation or legal advice to ensure that your divorce remains uncontested.
There are many nuances that you may not be aware of unless you specifically start learning how to get a divorce in Benton County, MS. Upon reading this guide on divorce procedures, you will better understand the Mississippi divorce timeline and the steps of getting a divorce in Benton County.
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Valid grounds to get divorce in Benton County
Currently, most US states, including Mississippi, do not require divorcing couples to come up with a specific ‘fault’ to end their marriage. By citing “irreconcilable differences” any couple can get a “no-fault” divorce as stated in Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-2.
Mississippi has ‘fault-based’ grounds for divorce too. Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-1 stipulates that the grounds for divorce can include impotency, adultery, pregnancy of the wife by another man, alcohol or substance abuse, abandonment, imprisonment, incurable insanity, physical abuse, bigamy, and incest.
However, opting for a fault-based divorce divorcing couples step outside of the realm of uncontested divorces into contested litigation which requires the assistance of an attorney. Furthermore, each instance of marital fault must be proven with hard evidence.
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Using the best interests of a child as its ruling principle, Benton County courts encourage both parents to split child custody. Distinguishing between legal custody (decision-making for the child) and physical custody (place of residence of the child), the court typically awards joint custody (meaning joint physical and legal custody) to both parents. For this, both parents must apply for child custody.
If they indicated irreconcilable differences as the ground for divorce, a Benton County court may award joint custody unless there are circumstances preventing them from doing so. According to the Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-24 (2), if the ground for divorce is fault-based, the court will examine all pertinent factors to make a decision.
Some of those factors include:
the child’s age, health, and sex
The child’s wishes if the child is over 12
each parent’s nature and quality of relationship with the child
each parent’s work schedules and availability
each parent’s physical and mental health, age, and relationship with each other
each parent’s parenting style
the child’s home, school and community record;
stability of the home environment and of each parent’s employment; and
any other relevant factors
In Benton County, it is common for divorcing couples with children to submit a parenting plan when filing for divorce or after the spouse is served with the divorce papers. A parenting plan is a document where parents memorialize their terms of child custody, such as a visitation schedule, vacations, expenses, childcare, etc. The judge reviews the parenting plan and either makes changes to the terms or awards custody as requested in the application.
When having a divorce with children in Benton County, parents may be ordered to attend a parenting class before a divorce decree gets signed. This is done in the best interests of a child to ease each party’s adjustment to their new life situation.
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Rules for child support in Benton County
Typically, only the noncustodial parent pays child support because he or she does not live with the child and/or spends less than 50% of the time with the child. If both parents share custody, there can still be child custody payments because it is calculated based on the Income Shares model. Typically, the higher earner pays a 15% difference in his or her income.
For example, if both parents have similar monthly income and share parenting time 50/50, there may not be any child support payments as there is no difference in their incomes. However, if one parent makes $1,500 per month and the other makes $3,000 per month, the 15% difference from $1,500 is $225, which is the amount of monthly child support the higher-earning parent will have to pay.
Furthermore, the amount of monthly payments is adjusted according to the number of children being provided for. According to Miss. Code Ann. § 43-19-101, a parent pays 14% from income for one child, 20% for two children, 22% for three children, 24% for four children, and 26% for 5 or more children.
To calculate child support in Benton County, MS, courts use the four-part Income Shares model. First, they add up both parents' incomes. Next, they determine the percentage of child support payments based on the total income and the number of children. Then, they add any additional costs (daycare, medical care, tuition, transportation, etc.). Finally, they divide the total number by a percentage of the income each parent makes.
To make sure the child support payment is true and fair, the court requires both parents to submit their financial affidavits detailing all sources of income (salary, bonuses, commissions, insurance and pension benefits, spousal support, investments, etc.).
In Benton County, child support is paid until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. However, child support may continue past 18 if the child has special needs.
A parent becomes automatically exempt from child support as soon as the child turns 21, gets married, enlists in the military on a full-time basis, or gets imprisoned for at least two years. Furthermore, a parent can request termination of child support in cases when the child drops out of school after the age of 18; gets a job, moves out, or quits school/college before turning 21; or moves out to live with another person without the approval of the parent paying support.
In Benton County, either parent can ask the court to modify the amount of child support if anything changes in the life circumstances of any participant. In case of child support arrears, the enforcement division of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services is authorized to enforce child support payments from the payor.
Rules for spousal support in Benton County
Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-23 (2018) spells out the rights for the husband or the wife to request alimony, also referred to as maintenance, if there are corresponding circumstances of the parties. However, even if both parties agree and the court approves the request for alimony, the provisions of a prenuptial agreement can limit spousal support (see Miss. Code Ann. § 93-3-7). In some cases, pre-nups can also stipulate conditions under which spousal support is not paid (for example, adultery).
It is up to spouses to try and work out the terms of their spousal support. If, however, spouses fail to agree or the judge does not approve of their agreement, the judge will decide alimony on a case-to-case basis factoring in how much income, expenses, debts, and assets each spouse makes, how old and how healthy each spouse is, the standard of living during the marriage, and any fault or misconduct by either spouse. Also, custody arrangements and property division play an important role in decisions about awarding spousal support.
In Benton County, the petitioning spouse must file a request for alimony either as interim spousal support (for the duration of divorce proceedings), post-divorce temporary spousal support, or both. In Mississippi, some types of alimony are intended as equalizers and some are not. Types of alimony are determined by the following factors:
How much is paid
How long it is paid
Will it be paid after the paying spouse dies or remarries
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Property division in Benton County
Under Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-2 (2019), a divorce cannot be finalized until the parties handle property division or the court orders the division of property for them.
For a divorce in Benton County, it is important that the state follows equitable distribution laws, and often, who holds the legal title affects how marital property is distributed. This means that, if your marriage is broken after 10 years together and you have no title in marital property, you may get less than those who hold legal title and were married less.
However, to divide assets in Benton County is often challenging because the state is not true “titled property.” Equitable distribution law requires the court to carefully classify property and evaluate all factors before distribution.
Under Mississippi law, how property is divided is determined in several steps. First, property should be classified as marital or separate, which may not always be easy because spouses often contribute to or commingle each other’s assets. Second, the property should be evaluated by experts and appraisers. Next, the court applies “Ferguson Factors” to divide assets equally considering:
substantial contribution to the accumulation of marital assets;
use, disposition and distribution of marital assets by agreement;
the current market value and/or emotional value of the marital assets;
the value of each spouse’s separate assets;
the tax and legal consequences to third parties;
the extent to which property division can eliminate the need for alimony;
the needs for each spouse;
any other pertinent factors.
The laws of separate and marital property refer to retirement benefits too. Pension and retirement benefits earned during the marriage are marital property and are subject to equitable division. Divorcing couples are advised to hire financial experts (retirement planner, actuary, certified divorce financial analyst, or business appraiser) to make sure neither of them loses something in the divorce process. If it is possible, spouses can divide the retirement plan or split benefits. If it is impossible, spouses can get a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to ensure they both get their share upon the maturation of the funds.
Debts are also subject to fair division and distribution. If the debt obligations belong to your spouse, you should remove yourself from joint credit cards. Then you will not be obliged to pay debts which are not yours.
Mediation support in Benton County
Typically, US courts mandate mediation if a divorcing couple cannot agree on the terms of their divorce. However, Mississippi does not provide for mediation in divorce proceedings. If you want to use this option in Benton County, you need to hire a mediator on your own. It is a viable option as mediation helps divorcing couples resolve their disputes in an agreeable manner, more quickly and at a lower cost than hiring legal representation or litigation in the court.
A mediator can assist a couple in drafting a marital settlement agreement for submission to the judge to review and approve. Overall, the use of mediation drives down the price of a divorce.
How to file for divorce in Benton County | Step-by-Step
Check out your eligibility and clarify where to file. To meet the residence requirements to file in Mississippi, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce (See Mis. Code Ann. § 93-5-5 (2019)). The divorce can be filed in the county where either spouse lives.
Obtain and fill out the forms. In Benton County, MS, divorce papers are usually filed with the chancery court. Drop by to pick up the forms and complete them either at home or at the courthouse where staff can help you. The forms can also be downloaded online from the court website or obtained by using an online documents preparation service.
File the forms with the court’s clerk. After you fill out and sign the forms, bring them to the courthouse and hand them over to the court’s clerk to stamp and register them. Before filing, you should make two copies of the divorce papers (one for you and one for your spouse). When you file, you’ll be asked to pay a filing fee or submit a waiver of filing fees to the court’s clerk. Note that if you filed on the basis of irreconcilable differences (no-fault divorce), there’s a 60-day waiting period after filing before the divorce is finalized.
Serve your spouse. If both spouses are in agreement about the divovce, you can easily find a number of ways to hand over the paperwork to your spouse. He or she needs to sign an acknowledgement of service which you will submit to the court as proof of service. However, if your spouse is uncooperative or missing, you will need to find a way to serve your spouse. The service can be done by a sheriff, a professional service server, or any adult besides you or your children. After serving your spouse with the divorce papers, the server will provide you with proof of service for submission to the court. Another variant to serve the spouse is to send the papers by certified mail which provides a return receipt. If none of these methods work, you can apply for service by publication. If the judge permits you to publish a notice of divorce in a local newspaper, the notice will have to run for several consecutive weeks to give your spouse time to see it. In the case of a missing spouse, doing an exhaustive search can drive the cost of divorce up, but in the long run, it could result in a default divorce.
Exchange financial information with your spouse. During the 60-day waiting period spouses must disclose their financial information so that the court can make fair decisions on support issues and distribution of property.
Wait 60 days to finalize the divorce. This waiting period is only for no-fault divorces. However, the judge will grant a divorce after the waiting period only if the couple has resolved all divorce-related issues. If child custody, support, and/or property divisions are still being contested or mediated, the court will continue to wait until all of the issues have been settled. If one spouse is missing and fails to timely respond to the divorce papers, the court will enter a default judgment.
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Filing fees for divorce in Benton County
In Benton County, court fees for filing a Complaint for Divorce will average $148.00 for an uncontested divorce. Court costs vary from county to county and largely depend on the amount of paperwork the plaintiff has to file.
Each county enables litigants the opportunity to be exempt from payment of filing fees if they are financially unable to afford payment. According to Rule 3 (c) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, a litigant may qualify for a fee waiver by requesting In Forma Pauperis.
How long will it take?
The minimum time limit for an uncontested divorce in Benton County, MS is 60 days from the moment you file the divorce paperwork with the court’s clerk. In order to complete your divorce in the minimum 60 day period, it is up to you to make sure your spouse is served and all issues have been settled during this time.
Fault-based divorces are notoriously much longer. If the spouses contest every issue, the length of the divorce process can be longer than a year.
Overall, settling all issues early on, such custody, support, and property, is the best way to have an inexpensive and relatively quick divorce. Sometimes, courts are overloaded with paperwork and the divorce procedure drags on for reasons beyond your control. But filing your own divorce and having no contest definitely pays off in terms of time, effort, and money.
Filing for divorce in Benton County | Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a divorce cost in Benton County, MS In any divorce, there are at least two types of expenses: court fees and service fees. For an uncontested divorce without a lawyer, a party could get by only having to pay for the court fees to file the divorce paperwork. In Benton County, filing for a divorce will cost around $148. There are additional costs for filing each motion, petition, or request (roughly $5-$15) and for serving the spouse ($25 or more if you cannot locate the spouse and need to hire an investigator or a sheriff). If you need consultations from experts – to appraise property, advise on child custody, plan the handling of taxes, pension and retirement benefits, and other financial issues – the cost of divorce will be difficult to estimate beforehand because charges differ depending on the county and the amount of professional expertise used.
How to file for divorce in Benton County, MS without a lawyer? OnlineDivorce.com provides a comprehensive guide on a DIY divorce in Benton County. Besides, Benton County has help-self resources to help divorcing couples do their own divorce.
What forms are required for an uncontested divorce in Benton County, MS? For a couple with children an approximate set of documents to file will include:
Bill of Complaint for Divorce
Marital Settlement Agreement
Financial Disclosure Statements
Affidavit Regarding the Children
Child Support Computation Worksheet
Child Support Guidelines
Acknowledgment, Acceptance of Service and Appearance
Request for Hearing
Notice of Hearing
Decree of Divorce
Can I file for legal separation in Benton County, MS? Mississippi refers to legal separation as ‘separate maintenance’ and recognizes people’s right to sever ties while staying married. If you want to legally separate from your spouse in Benton County, file for separate maintenance and determine the issues of custody, support, and property division just like in a traditional divorce but without the termination of the marriage.
When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce? Mississippi has no restrictions for remarriage after divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, there is no waiting period before you can remarry.
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With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition
respond to the petition
interview and hire an attorney
pre-trial legal motions and hearings
settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
if settlement fails, prepare for and complete a court trial
appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s)
Prepare to pay exorbitant attorney's fees - at least $2000-3000 depending on your case’s complexity.
Hourly rates vary with different attorneys and average $250-300 per hour. In rural areas, attorneys
may charge less. However, if you live in a large city, local attorneys may charge up to $1000 per hour.
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