Monday, August 18, 2014
Consent to Divorce and Later Agreements
Myself and opposing counsel had an interesting conversation in chambers last week at a divorce trial. Originally, the parties agreed to virtually nothing. The parties finally entered into a written consent to grounds for divorce with the court to decide all other issues. By the time of trial, the parties had narrowed the issues down dramatically to a few very narrow issues that could almost have been decided with little or no testimony. The chancellor was happy with that but called us into chambers to discuss one issue. Mississippi Code Annotated 93-5-2 requires the consent to divorce to be in writing with what other issues for the court to decide to be laid out. The chancellor asked us to reduce our stipulations to writing and have the parties to sign an amended consent prior to ruling on the case. The chancellor was worried about a Reno v. Reno problem where a consent on the other issues might be reversed on appeal if it was not in writing also. It was easy to do and offered both parties some protection in the event of an appeal. I suspect this issue will go be addressed by the Court of Appeals at some point in the future.