Maggio Law Firm, PC

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Are Mississippi's Child Support Guidelines absolute?

Like other states, Mississippi has Child Support Guidelines. These Guidelines provide a formula for judges in Mississippi to use when setting a dollar amount for support. Because one point of these Guidelines is to ensure that judges are consistent when it comes to ordering child support, the law creates a strong presumption that courts should follow them.

However, Mississippi judges are free to deviate from these Guidelines in a number of circumstances, so long as they explicitly justify their decisions for doing so. These circumstances apply when it would be unfair to strictly apply the state's Guidelines.

To give an example, some children have medical needs that cost more than the average child. Parents who must take their children to the doctor on an ongoing basis, as opposed to just the annual checkup and for an occasional illness, will have higher medical bills.

Sometimes, special circumstances pertain more to the parent's situation than they do to that of the children. Some Gulfport residents work in careers where income can fluctuate widely, depending on the time of year or even the market conditions.

A realtor may, for example, sell 10 houses in a good year but then sell only three houses the following year. In this case, it would not be fair to assume for child support purposes that the realtor always sells 10 houses a year.

While this state's Child Support Guidelines must be respected, they are not set in stone. A parent who feels they may be entitled to a deviation should consider speaking with an experienced child support lawyer.

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