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Determining child support and custody in Mississippi divorces

When Mississippi couples decide to end their marriages, their attention most often turns to their children. Who will get custody? How much child support will the court order paid by the non-custodial parent? The answers to these questions are often complicated by the specific situation of the divorcing spouses, and this post is able only to provide a summary of the law.

Mississippi law gives the court the power to "make all orders touching the care, custody and maintenance of the children of the marriage." Custody will generally be determined by the court's determination of the best interests of the children. The court may award joint physical and legal custody to both parents, joint physical custody to either parent with legal custody to either parent or joint legal custody to both parents with physical custody to either parent, or physical and legal custody to either parent. In doing so, the court will look at factors such as the child's relation with each parent, the ability of the parents to provide a wholesome and stable environment and whether either parent has been charged with domestic violence.

Child support is fixed according to guidelines established by statute that are based on a party's adjusted gross income. One child is entitled to 14 percent of the adjusted gross income of the payor spouse, two children will receive 20 percent of the payor's spouse's AGI, three children receive 22 percent of the AGI, 4 children receive 24 percent of AGI, and 5 or more children receive 26 percent. The court can adjust these amounts based upon factors that are enumerated in the statute.

Anyone who is contemplating a divorce involving children may wish to consult a family lawyer for advice on the factors that affect both child custody and child support. An experienced attorney can provide advice on the factors that will affect the court's decision on these issues.

Source: Mississippi Code Ann. §§93-5-23 and 95-5-24, accessed on March 20, 2017

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