Monday, December 21, 2009

How is Marital Property Divided Upon Divorce in Mississippi?

1. Property Division in Mississippi

Along with custody disputes, the division of marital property during divorce is often problematic and a source of contention for many couples seeking to dissolve their marriage. Should the parties to a divorce be unable to agree on how to divide their property, it will be necessary to retain an experienced divorce attorney to carefully scrutinize the facts of your case and make an argument relating to the classification and distribution of the marital estate. The following is some basic information relating to property distribution in Mississippi.

When it comes to dividing property during a divorce, Mississippi is what attorneys call an “equitable distribution” state. Ferguson v. Ferguson, 639 So.2d 921 (Miss. 1994). Under this manner of distribution, marital property is distributed between the parties upon divorce based on the equities of their particular situation. In Mississippi, equitable distribution does not mean "equal" distribution. Instead, courts of this state utilize several steps when making an equitable distribution of marital property. These steps include: (1) classifying assets as marital or separate; (2) valuing assets (sometimes using experts); (3) divide marital property equally based on the factors outlined in Ferguson; and, (4) award alimony if needed after the division of assets.

First, property of the marriage must be “classified” as marital or separate. Marital property is defined as “assets acquired or accumulated during the course of the marriage”. On the other hand, separate assets are those “attributable to one of the parties’ separate estates prior to the marriage or outside the marriage.” Gifts and inheritances received during the marriage are normally separate property in Mississippi. However, separate property may be converted to marital property based on actions of the owning spouse such as commingling, family use, or joint titling.

Separate property of a party will not be subject to division. However, once property is classified as marital property, the court will value the property and attempt to reach a fair division of the marital assets using the factors outlined in the Ferguson decision. These factors include:
(1) substantial contribution to property accumulation, including indirect economic contribution, contribution to family stability and contribution to theeducation and training of the wage earning spouse;
(2) spousal use or disposition of assets;
(3) the market and emotional value of assets;
(4) the value of each spouses separate estate;
(5) tax consequences and legal consequences to third parties;
(6) the extent to which property division and eliminate the need for alimony;
(7) the needs of each spouse; and,
(8) other factors which should be considered in equity.
In addition to these factors, marital "fault" remains a minor factor for consideration in property division.
Each couple's situation presents unique facts for analysis under the Ferguson factors. There are numbers of cases where both equal and unequal distribution of property have been upheld. Therefore, it is critical in divorce cases where property distribution is an issue to have an experienced divorce or family law attorney to zealously represent you with issues relating to property distribution.


  1. I was browsing for Viagra Online and in my way for a good medication to treat my sexual poor desire with my wife I found out that marriage is a complicated thing to resolve and at the same time I saw some information about divorce. The usual dispute on marital property is always the main problem when a divorce is on its way.

  2. Divorce is emotionally stressful time and one thing that can be very frustrating, deciding a property division. i must say that you should have good knowledge about the whole process, only then you can successfully handle such situation.
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  3. Great post. I hope you write more good stuff like this article.

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  4. At Hunter Law Group we understand that divorce and other Family Law issues are some of the most devastating events a family can experience where once happy couples and families find themselves fighting over property, children, and even coffee cups. For any further help or suggestion please contact us.

  5. This is actually really good to know for me and my soon to be ex-wife. It's odd how we're mutually content with this divorce, but we still have to follow the rules. It's been interesting, but I hope we can work out our differences sooner than later. We're working with an attorney now to keep up with what else we have to consider in this divorce.