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Determining child custody in a Mississippi divorce

Resolving disputes about child custody can one of the most vexing issues facing Mississippi couples who have decided to end their marriages. In 1983, the Mississippi Supreme Court abolished the decades old preference for awarding custody to the mother and replaced it with twelve factors that must be weighed by the chancellor in every case where the parents cannot resolve the child custody issue on their own.

The twelve factors were announced in the case Albright v. Albright and have thereafter been called the Albright Factors. The Albright factors encompass several different lifestyle elements of both parent and child. Some of these include: parenting skills of the adults in question; willingness of each parent to provide care; stability of home environment; parental employment; and school and community record of the child.

These factors are not intended to serve as a mathematical formula. Rather, they are intended to guide the chancellor in choosing an outcome that serves the best interests of the child. Because these considerations are not meant to be too strict of determining factor, there is built-in flexibility that allows for personal judgment to be included in the decision. The last Albright factor - other relevant factors - gives the chancellor great latitude in deciding this issue.

Anyone who is contemplating a divorce that involves minor children may wish to seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can explain how the Albright factors will affect the case if the two parents cannot settle the issue of custody amicably.

Source: Mississippi State Bar Association, "Mississippi Law on Custody and Visitation," accessed on May 7, 2017

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