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Mississippi child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Mississippi child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Mississippi child support determined?

In Mississippi, the courts may order either or both parents to provide child support, based on what they determine is just and equitable. When both parents have income or estates, each parent may be ordered by the court to provide support in proportion to his or her financial circumstances.

There are specific Mississippi Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed, unless both parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust. The guidelines are based on the following percentages of the net income of the parent responsible for support:

  • 1 child 14%
  • 2 children 20%
  • 3 children 22%
  • 4 children 24%
  • 5 or more children 26%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 21 years of age.

Mississippi's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these custody decisions. In Mississippi, joint or sole custody may be awarded, based on the best interests of the child. The may order one of the following custody awards:

  • joint physical and legal custody to both parents
  • physical custody to both parents and legal custody to one parent
  • legal custody to both parents and physical custody to one parent
  • custody to a third party if the parents are considered unfit

If both parents request joint custody, and the divorce was based on irreconcilable differences, then the courts presume joint custody is in the best interests of the child. If both parents are fit and the child is 12 years of age or older, then the child may choose the parent he or she wishes to live with. If child abuse has been alleged, then the courts will order an investigation.

Mississippi's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If these decisions have not been addressed, then the Mississippi courts may order a parent to provide health insurance coverage for the child, if this coverage is available at a reasonable cost through an employer or organization.

How permanent are the provisions for Mississippi child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Most states, including Mississippi, have a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Mississippi determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the
nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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