During a divorce, courts are often deciding who will have custody of the couple’s children. When a judge decides child custody, they are simply looking to one thing: what would be in the best interest of the child? But determining what is in the child’s best interest can sometimes be tricky, which is why Mississippi courts use a set of factors to help make this decision.
The Albright Factors
Courts look to the best interest of the child to determine custody. Each state uses a list of factors to figure out what would be in the best interest of the child or children. Mississippi uses the following 13 factors (they are called the Albright factors because they come from a Mississippi case called Albright v. Albright):
- Age of the child
- Health and sex of the child (does the child have a mental or physical disability? Does the child have a terminal illness?)
- Which parent has continuity of care prior to the separation (which parent has been taking care of the child most of the time?)
- Which parent has the best parenting skills
- Which parent has the willingness and capacity to provide primary childcare
- Employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment (is one parent a nurse who works 12-hour shifts? Does one parent work for months at a time on an oil rig? Does one parent work nights? Does one parent work from home?)
- Physical and mental health and age of the parents (does one parent have a terminal illness? Does one parent struggle with poor mental health?)
- Emotional ties of parent and child (is the child significantly more bonded with one parent than the other?)
- Moral fitness of the parent (is one parent struggling with alcohol or drug addiction? Has one parent been having an affair?)
- Home, school, and community record of the child (is there any way that the child can remain in the school that they’ve been going to?)
- Preference of the child at the age sufficient to express a preference by law (in Mississippi, children can express a preference if they are 12 years old or older, but the judge is not required to follow it)
- Stability of the home environment and employment of each parent
- Other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship (there is no factor that talks about kids being with their siblings, so that would fall under this factor)
When Mississippi courts use the Albright factors, they do not use a mathematical formula. This means that even if one parent has 2 factors that favor their side, and the other parent has 7 factors that favor their side, the parent who has 7 factors does not necessarily win. Any one factor could be so compelling and important that it outweighs the other factors. Additionally, some factors may be neutral and may not favor one parent or the other. Age and sex of the child are often neutral factors that do not heavily favor one parent over the other.
Courts also do not speculate about what could or might happen in the future. The judge can only look at the current situation. But child custody can always be modified or changed at a later date.
Finding an Attorney
If you have been searching the Mississippi area for a qualified, experienced family law attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. Our firm can handle your case with a balance of compassion and confidence to guide you through one of the most difficult times a person can go through. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your options.
Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com,
superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is mississippi-lawyers.com and our
office phone number is (601) 948 – 4444 option 1.