Mississippi law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. The courts will consider all forms of custody—including joint and sole custody.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In Mississippi, parenting plans are voluntary (but strongly encouraged). If parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will evaluate their case and assign custody.
What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?
Mississippi courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child. These factors include:
- The child’s age, gender and health,
- Who has been the child’s primary caregiver,
- The physical and mental health of the parents,
- The parents’ willingness and ability to care for the child,
- Each parent’s employment and job duties,
- The emotional bond between parent and child,
- The parents’ moral fitness,
- The child’s connection to their current home, school, and community,
- The importance of sibling and other familial relationships,
- Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse, and
- The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate).
A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In other words, both mothers and fathers are treated equally under the law. However, evidence of domestic violence will result in a rebuttable presumption that the abuser should not have custody. Mississippi custody laws sets out specific criteria for overturning this presumption.
What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?
Once the parenting plan and divorce order are signed, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved custody order and the court must approve any modification of the plan.
Should I Contact a Mississippi Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?
Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.