When a Mississippi couple decides to divorce, if they are both in agreement the process will be relatively simple and cost-effective unless it is a contested divorce, where the two sides must argue their positions on the grounds for dissolution in court. When children are involved, however, things can get more complicated.
Mississippi courts begin from the standpoint that both parents may equally share custody and parenting time if this is in the best interests of the child. Many factors come into play in making decisions about legal or physical custody, such as the health of the child, their relationship to each parent and preference if they are 12 years of age or older, as well as the child’s community and school environment.
The cost of providing for the physical needs of a child becomes more challenging, however, when the custodial parent has most of the caretaking responsibilities and the other parent takes on child support obligations. Families in Gulfport and surrounding areas would be wise to examine their options as they begin down this path.
Child support in Mississippi
Mississippi laws provide guidelines that inform judicial determinations of child support awards, factoring in a percentage of the provider’s adjusted gross income and the number of children involved:
- 14-20% of income for one to two children
- 22-24% of income for three to four children
- 26% of income for five or more children
Gross income may include not only salary, wages and self-employment income, but also sources such as investments and interest, workers’ compensation, as well as disability and retirement benefits. These guidelines may change if combined income sources are less than $10,000 or over $100,000.
Enforcement of child support responsibilities
Parents who are responsible for child support should be aware of Mississippi laws, especially if there is a change in their financial status or other life event. There are estimates that over a third of child support awards do not reach the families dependent on them, which can result in wage garnishment of or criminal action against the delinquent parent.
In spite of the strong emotions that often accompany a messy split-up, the parent paying child support should always remember that their financial obligation is to their children, not the other parent, and it may not end until the child is 21 years of age or gets married, is adopted, or becomes self-supporting earlier.