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Gulfport Mississippi Legal Blog

International abductions in non-Hague Convention cases

A previous Mississippi blog post discussed the Hague Abduction Convention, an international treaty that allows parents to request access to, or the return of, their child who was wrongfully taken across international borders. However, parents may only do so if the other country has adopted the Convention. There are other avenues of assistance for parents of children who were internationally abducted to a country that has not adopted the Convention.

If a child is abducted to a country that is not party to the Convention, the parent seeking return of the child is subject to the laws of that country in attempting to settle the custody dispute. If the Convention does not apply, the United States Department of State can help by responding to requests for assistance from parents or from foreign embassies in the United States.

International abductions: The Hague Abduction Convention

A Mississippi child may be illegally removed from the care of his or her legal guardian, often by a parent, because of a child custody dispute or other divorce issues. If that parent lives abroad, it may further complicate the situation. Parents seeking the return of their child taken abroad have options, depending on whether the country has adopted The Hague Abduction Convention.

The Hague Abduction Convention is an international treaty that allows parents to request access to, or the return of, their child wrongfully taken across international borders. Parents may receive assistance by completing a Convention Application, but only if the other country has adopted the Convention. They must indicate on the application whether they wish to have their child returned, gain access to or visitation with, their child.

Providing experienced guidance through the divorce process

Getting a divorce requires spouses to make important decisions, such as how property will be divided, whether alimony will be paid, who will have child custody and child visitation. In Mississippi, there are two types of divorce -- fault-based (contested) and no-fault (uncontested).

Fault-based divorce is one in which a spouse files for divorce based on legal grounds, including a criminal conviction, adultery or substance abuse. No-fault divorce is when both spouses agree to divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

Marijuana charges in Mississippi are still a serious matter

More and more states and cities are legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Even more states have created legal medical marijuana programs for those with serious medical conditions.

Mississippi has made some changes to marijuana laws in recent years, but that doesn't mean that you can possess or use marijuana without criminal penalties. You may think that pleading guilty will inspire lenience, but you could face steep penalties even if you plead guilty. If you are in the military, a guilty plea could also result in military disciplinary action.

Military Family Separation Allowance

Mississippi service members are entitled to military allowance packages, which give them tax-free compensation for living costs. Allowances provide financial assistance for any services or facilities not provided by the military, including housing, subsistence, cost of living, clothing, overseas housing and family separation. Service members with dependents may qualify for a Family Separation Allowance (FSA) depending on their circumstances. To be eligible for FSA, service members must be subject to an enforced family separation under one of four conditions.

The first condition of entitlement to FSA is when transportation of a service member's dependents to the permanent duty station is not an authorized government expense and the dependents no not already live nearby. The second is when transportation is an authorized government expense but the service member has chosen to embark on an unaccompanied tour of duty due to medical reasons. The third is when a service member is aboard a ship that is away from the homeport for more than 30 continuous days. The final condition is when a service member is away from the permanent station for more than 30 continuous days on temporary duty and their dependents are not residing at the temporary station.

Can filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy stop foreclosure?

Many homeowners in Mississippi have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and are now facing the possibility of losing their homes. Most lenders are unwilling to allow for a short sale or loan modification. Rather, they will begin the foreclosure process as soon as possible.

Once the foreclosure process is complete, the creditor will typically repossess the house, sell it at a public auction and use the proceeds to pay for the mortgage and legal costs. However, homeowners may be able to stop foreclosure by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Gulfport teen faces manslaughter charge

Teenagers face manslaughter charges after fatally shooting his little brother in the stomach. The 16-year-old was arrested and charged as an adult with one count of manslaughter. He allegedly attempted to scare his 6-year-old brother, while the child was sitting on top of a washing machine playing a video game. When the gun failed to go off, he pulled the trigger again, firing the fatal shot.

Police do not suspect there was a dispute between the brothers. Therefore, the shooter was charged with manslaughter. Had there been a dispute or some form of intent, the teen would have been charged with murder.

U.S. Army Family Advocacy Programs

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women has been physically abused by an intimate partner, including those in Mississippi. Domestic violence is at the root of many divorces and military divorces are no exception. The Department of the Army's policy is to prevent spouse and child abuse, protect and treat victims of abuse and train personnel to intervene in abuse cases. To accomplish this mission, the U.S. Army Family Advocacy Programs were established.

The New Parent Support Program, Transitional Compensation Program, Exceptional Family Member Program and Victim Advocacy Program are all part of the U.S. Army Family Advocacy Programs (FAP). They were established to provide service members and their families with services aimed at prevention, education, investigation, intervention, treatment of domestic and child abuse. All active soldiers and their families are eligible for FAP services.

Military members face serious consequences for DUI offenses

In any circumstances, a driving under the influence (DUI) charge can carry a host of negative consequences. Jail time can keep you from showing up to work. Even employers who might ignore your missed work may have policies about employees getting convicted of crimes. Many people lose their jobs over criminal convictions. If your career is in the United States Military, the potential consequences are even more severe.

The military courts may charge you with a DUI as a result of your civilian charges. In some cases, the two courts work together to determine punishment. In other cases, you could face separate charges and punishments from the military courts after a civilian DUI conviction or guilty plea. Because of the potential for punishment, it's important that you take a proactive stance to defend yourself against DUI charges.

What is the benefit of pleading no contest?

Most Mississippi criminal trials settle out of court through negotiations. These negotiations often result in plea bargains, which are negotiated agreements involving exchanges regarding a defendant's charge, sentence or facts of the case. The terms of plea bargains often entail a defendant pleading guilty or no contest in exchange for a less serious charge or a lighter sentence.

While pleading guilty or pleading no contest result in criminal conviction and punishment, there are some significant differences between the two. When a defendant pleads guilty, he or she is admitting the charges and accepts the punishment determined by the court. The court will decide on the appropriate punishment after ensuring that the plea was entered voluntarily.

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