Determining the level of child support in a divorce in Mississippi can be a difficult process. Mississippi's statutes provide a set of guidelines that are keyed to the number of children receiving support and the income of the non-custodial spouse. Yet even with these guidelines, courts have the power to set child support payments that may be either higher or lower than the statutory guidelines.
The guidelines themselves provide only a "rebuttable presumption" about the amount of child support. In other words, either spouse may contest the justification of the guideline amounts. The guidelines are relatively simple:
Number of Children Percentage of Adjusted Gross Income
Due Support That Should Be Awarded for Support
5 or more 26%
Determining adjusted gross income of the non-custodial spouse involves a number of deductions and adjustments. Income from several sources is first totaled: wages and salary, self-employment income, commission income and income from investments and disability income are a few examples. The statute also requires certain amounts be deducted: federal, state and local taxes, social security contributions, court-ordered child support in another divorce or paternity case. If the non-custodial spouse's adjusted gross income is less than $10,000 or greater than $100,000, the court must make a finding as to whether the guideline amount is reasonable.
As mentioned, the support guidelines are not absolutely binding on the court; they provide only a rebuttable presumption. The statutes also state a number of criteria that can be used by either parent to overcome the presumption. The list of factors is too long to be included in this post, but they require the court to examine evidence concerning the child's medical history, variations in the parents' income and similar factors.
Anyone who is contemplating a divorce that involves minor children may wish to consider consulting an experienced divorce attorney for advice on how the state's child support guidelines may affect the calculation of child support.
Source: Mississippi Code Ann. §§43-19-102 and 103, accessed on June 11, 2017