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Child Custody

To determine who will get custody of a minor child in Mississippi, the Chancery Court judge will assess what is in the best interest of the child. Many people have the belief that courts prefer to give the mother custody of the child, but Mississippi courts have moved away from that presumption in recent years. Although children of “tender years,” that is, children younger than four, tend to be placed with their mothers, both parents have equal claims to custody in the eyes of the law.

Albright Factors

The chancellor will use what is called the “Albright Factors” to devise a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. These factors are:

  • The age, sex, and health of the child
  • The age and health of each parent
  • Which parent had the continuity of care prior to the separation
  • The parenting skills of each parent
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to provide primary care for the child
  • The employment of each parent and responsibilities of that employment
  • Each parent’s home and employment stability
  • The moral fitness of each parent
  • The child’s home, school, and community involvement
  • The emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • If the child is 12 or older, the child’s preference
  • Any other factors relevant to the custody of the child

Each custody case is unique and not every factor will apply to every situation. Depending on the facts of the situation, some factors may have greater weight than others. The Chancery Court judge has discretion to weigh the factors relevant to the case and devise a custody plan that will most benefit the child. Call Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon to talk with a family law lawyer today about how these factors will impact your custody case. Our attorneys understand how the chancellor will consider these factors and can use these factors to get you more time with your child.

Physical Custody and Legal Custody

In a divorce or child custody case, the chancellor will award both physical and legal custody to the parents. Legal custody is the right of the parent to make decisions for the child about their education and healthcare. Physical custody is which parent physically has the child with them. Both parents may share joint legal and physical custody, or one parent may have legal custody and the other has physical custody. One parent may have both legal and physical custody while the other parent has liberal visitation, such as every other weekend with the child. Although rare, in some cases, the non-custodial parent will be limited to supervised visitation with the child. No two custody arrangements are exactly the same in Mississippi. The chancellor will tailor your custody order to suit the best interests of the child.

Child Support

Almost always, the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent. This is true even in cases where the parents share 50/50 joint physical custody. Child support in Mississippi is set by a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s adjusted gross income and how many children are to be provided for. The non-custodial parent’s adjusted gross income is determined by all their sources of income, interest payments on saving and investment accounts, disability and unemployment payments, retirement income, alimony, and even income from the non-custodial spouse. The court will subtract federal, state, and local taxes, social security contributions, and mandatory retirement and disability contributions from the total amount of income and make considerations for other children being supported by the non-custodial parent. Based on the adjusted gross income, the court will apply a percentage per child which is how the amount of child support is computed.

  • 1 Child 14%
  • 2 Children 20%
  • 3 Children 22%
  • 4 Children 24%
  • 5 Children or more 26%

Failure to pay child support does not mean a parent will lose custody or visitation with their child. A parent should not withhold visitation because the other parent is behind on child support payments. However, failing to pay child support can lead to a contempt citation, garnishment of wages, and even the forfeiture of professional licenses. Contact Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon today to talk with our family law attorneys about your child support concerns.

Grandparent Visitation

Mississippi law allows grandparents to sue for visitation with a grandchild in the event the parent of that child has had their parental rights terminated, has been imprisoned, or the other parent has merely been awarded custody. To qualify for legal grandparent visitation, the grandparent must demonstrate they have a viable relationship with the child and the grandparent has been unreasonably denied visitation with the child. The visitation must be in the best interest of the child.

Generally, a grandparent cannot get custody of their grandchild unless there has been some abuse, neglect, or some other grounds for removing the child from their parent. The natural parents of the child have the best claims for custody in the eyes of the law. If you are considering seeking legal visitation with your grandchild, call today to talk with a family law attorney at Carmody, Stewart, & Mixon.

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