Traditionally, mothers are thought of as handling the rearing of children while fathers are the primary breadwinners. This traditional view is outdated, as many Gulfport parents know. Still, the traditional view is how many people think of parenting roles. The question is whether Mississippi law adheres to the traditional view or recognizes the modern reality that both parents play a key role in child rearing.
The modern view is how courts in the Magnolia State view the matter. Mississippi state law says that neither parent has any right paramount to the right of the other concerning custody. It further states that parents are the joint natural guardians of their minor children and are equally charged with their care, nurture, welfare, and education, and the care and management of their estates.
35 years ago, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that this means there is a presumption that mothers and fathers are equally entitled to custody of their children. This rule replaces the traditional approach in which family law courts gave an automatic preference to the mother in child custody decisions.
Although there is no longer an automatic preference for mothers, courts still make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the children. Parents may be awarded joint physical custody of their children. If one parent has primary custody of the children, the other parent may be awarded parenting time with the children. The issue of how much parenting time, and when, is settled in a visitation plan. Visitation plans may be changed if a material change in circumstances happens.
Source: The Mississippi Bar, "Mississippi Law on Custody and Visitation," accessed on April 27, 2018