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Some presumptions related to child custody in Mississippi

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Family Law

At the time of divorce, an major issue is often regarding child custody. In Mississippi, child custody determinations are based on the “best interests of the child” standards, which are a set of factors that were established by the Mississippi Supreme Court’s 1983 ruling in Albright v. Albright. In addition to Albright v. Albright, there are certain presumptions that are applicable to all child custody actions in the state. This blogs post will cover those presumptions in brief.

Presumption of parental equality

Per this presumptions, courts in the state are now of the opinion that both parents have equal rights when it comes to getting the custody of a child. Earlier, the “tender years doctrine” was prevalent in custody-related matters but the Supreme Court’s 1983 decision relied on a statute, which says that neither parent “has any right paramount to the right of the other concerning custody.”

Presumption against custody to violent parent

In 2003, the state legislature created a presumption that courts should not grant custody to a parent who has a history of family violence. This presumption is rebuttable. In the absence of a rebuttal, the non-violent parent gets the custody of the child, irrespective of the factors outlined in Albright v. Albright.

However, if both parents have a history of family violence, the court may grant custody to the parent who is less likely to continue the violent behavior. In addition, the court may order the custodial parent undergo a treatment program. The court may also grant custody to a third person and limit the visitation rights of the violent parent or parents.

Presumption in favor of joint custody upon request

Finally, family courts in Mississippi favor joint child custody. Therefore, the courts are likely to grant joint custody to both separating parents as it presumes that joint custody arrangements are in the best interests of the child.