Welcome to the fastest and easiest way to find out about child custody law in Mississippi.
How to approach your child custody question depends on your personal circumstances. Most people find themselves wrestling with issues of parental responsibility at the time of a divorce from the child’s other parent. But child custody concerns arise in many other circumstances as well—for example, if a child’s parents never married or if a grandparent or other family member has concerns about a child’s wellbeing.
Here, you'll find clear and accurate information about how to get custody of a child, including:
Mississippi courts use the "best interest of the child" standard to make child custody decisions at the time of divorce or separation. This rule was described in the Mississippi Supreme Court case Albright v. Albright in 1983:
[T]he polestar consideration in child custody cases is the best interest and welfare of the child. more...
There are many legal matters you can handle on your own, but a child custody fight is probably not one of them. First, the stakes are high for all involved—especially for the children. Second, Mississippi child custody laws and procedures are complex and it’s tough to handle complexity under stress. Mistakes may lead to confusing, expensive, and unhappy outcomes.
We don’t say these things to scare you. Our intention is to underscore reality and to encourage you to ask for help. Even if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer outright, you may be able to find free or low-cost legal assistance. At the very least, you can take advantage of the increasing number of custody self-help resources offered by local courts.
If you’re confused about the different types of child custody and how they work, you’re not alone. Here, we’ll demystify some of the basic terms and concepts you need to know when you’re trying to create a good parenting plan, focusing on what it means to share custody of your kids.
To start, let’s look at the two basic legal elements of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is all about where your children live. You and your children’s other parent may share physical custody or just one of you may get physical custody. The legal term for sharing is joint physical custody. If the kids live with just one parent, that’s called sole physical custody.
When parents divorce or separate, the law allows only one of them to claim their child as a tax dependent. By default, the IRS gives this right to the custodial parent—that is, the parent with whom the child lives for more than half of the year. But there are ways to change the default rule and give child-related tax benefits to the non-custodial parent.
A 2019 study showed that child support payment amounts vary dramatically from state to state. A parent in one state may pay or receive up to three times as much as a parent in an identical situation who lives in another state—and the differences don’t depend on cost of living.
Given this, a parent might reasonably wonder whether it would be possible to get a lot more child support—or pay a lot less—by moving to the state next door. For better or worse, it’s not that easy.