When couples split up in Mississippi, they often do not consider all the financial aspects of divorce, especially when there are children involved. As the children grow, their physical, emotional and educational needs change, and some of these can be costly.
While the courts start from a presumption of parental equality regarding custody and parenting time, some considerations may guide a different outcome. All custody decisions must look at what is in the best interests of the child, outlined by state law, as the litmus test of each parenting situation. Some of these factors include:
- Which parent has the best parenting skills or had primary care of the child in marriage.
- Which parent is able and willing to continue this care.
- The child’s age, sex and health, and preference if aged 12 or older.
- The stability of the home environment, as well as the parents’ moral fitness, age, physical and mental health.
When the primary custodial parent must handle the responsibilities raising the child and does not have the income to support all of the costs, the courts will award child support based on a number of considerations, a financial obligation which the other parent must be prepared to take on.
How child support works in Mississippi
The guidelines that judges use to determine an award for child support in custody cases use a formula that factors in a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s adjusted gross income, as well as the number of children:
- For one to two children, 14-20% of income
- For three to four children, 22-24% of income
- For five or more children, 26% of income
Determining gross income sources must include wages or salary, commissions, investments, dividends, workers’ compensation, disability, annuities, or IRAs, and subtract deductions such as:
- Federal, state, or local taxes, Social Security, or pension and disability contributions.
- Other court-ordered support.
- Any amount deemed appropriate for another child living with the non-custodial parent.
After calculating the adjusted gross income minus deductions, dividing this final amount by 12 will give a monthly amount of the child support award.
Understanding child support obligations
For custodial parents, child support is essential to have the means to raise their children and give them what they need in every stage of development. For the parent paying child support, it is best to bear in mind that their financial obligation is to their children, not their ex, and to have a plan that factors in their responsibilities. A change in either parent’s life circumstances or financial status may necessitate a review of support obligations.