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Mississippi Supreme Court says no visitation for jailed mom

Child custody issues are often some of the most sensitive matters that must be addressed during a divorce. In Mississippi, child custody matters are almost always viewed from the perspective of the children and what is truly in their best interests. Unfortunately, this does not always comport with what parents believe is in the best interests of the children or themselves.

This was illustrated in a recent case that was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. In Griffin v. Griffin, the Court upheld a chancellor's decision, which denied an incarcerated mother's request for an order requiring the custodial father to bring their four children to visit the mother in prison. Instead, the judge allowed for four weekly phone calls and left visitation to the discretion of the father.

The law in Mississippi presumes that allowing children to visit with the non-custodial parent is in the children's best interests. However, this presumption can be overcome when circumstances dictate as much. In Griffin, the chancellor cited several factors, including the distance to the prison, the stress of being searched on entry and the eldest child's Asperger's Syndrome as factors that mitigated against court-ordered visitation. In affirming the chancellor's decision, the high court noted that incarceration does not itself mitigate against visitation, but the totality of the circumstances did.

The chancellor in Griffin still encouraged visitation, just at the father's discretion, and ordered other forms of contact and updates so that the mother would be included in their children's lives. Clearly, not all child custody matters are quite so complicated. Regardless of the complexity of the case, an experienced family law attorney could make a difference in helping parents serve their children's best interests in the difficult times of divorce.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Top Mississippi Court: Jailed Mom Not Entitled to Visitation," Mar. 12, 2018

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