Mississippi Family Law: An Overview
As complicated as a family issue may become by stress or high emotions, know that Mississippi’s family laws can help resolve the issue when needed. They provide guidelines toward equitable resolutions and protect every family member’s specific rights in divorce, child rearing, property and other related family topics. By learning about these laws, you can ensure that you and your family members get what you need through legal means.
If you have a family law case in Jackson, Southaven, Gulfport or elsewhere in Mississippi, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Mississippi Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, a Mississippi family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.
Mississippi Child Support
If a couple shared parental responsibilities of a child or children during their marriage, the parent who isn’t awarded custody in a divorce must pay child support to the custodial parent. Child support is paid until the child:
- Reaches the age of majority, which is 21 years old in Mississippi,
- Marries before reaching 21 years of age,
- Enlists and serves in the armed forces full-time,
- Is sentenced to imprisonment for 2 years or more for a felony conviction, or
- Is emancipated by a court order.
Child support payment amounts are calculated based on the number of children a parent must support and the noncustodial parent’s adjusted gross income.
Mississippi Marriage Requirements
Marriage is both a personal and legal matter in Mississippi. The legal side of marriage is largely concerned with the preservation of each person’s right to freely and safely consent to make an important life decision like marriage. Mississippi’s marriage laws are also concerned with guaranteeing a couple’s rights to the benefits of marriage, such as access to family insurance and joint income tax filing.
State law limits access to these benefits and rights by setting legal marriage requirements. These requirements include prohibitions of certain types of marriages that represent health and moral issues, such as:
- Marriage between family members, including stepchildren, stepsiblings, stepparents and first cousins. (See the Mississippi Code of 1972 Annotated § 93-1-1.)
- Marriage between members of the same sex.
- Marriage in which either party is under 21 years of age unless the underage party receives written parental consent. (See § 93-1-5.)
- Marriage in which the male party is under 17 years of age or the female partner is under 15 years of age unless the underage party receives both written parental consent and court approval.
Mississippi Child Custody and Visitation
In a divorce that involves the care of minor children, the court must decide how to award child custody and, if joint custody isn’t awarded, visitation rights to each parent. Mississippi recognizes two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. (See § 93-5-24.)
Legal custody grants a parent rights to make decisions and be held responsible for the child’s education, health and welfare. Physical custody grants a parent rights to decide where the child may physically reside. Parents may be granted full joint custody, joint legal/physical custody, sole custody or divided custody, in which one parent receives physical custody and the other receives legal custody.
The court determines how to award custody based on the child’s best interests. The parents legally have equal rights to their child, but the court must weigh each parent’s abilities and moral character in relation to caring for the child.