The 411 on Child Support in Mississippi

Child support is a crucial issue for divorcing spouses, as well as those who are not married but have a child or children under the age of 21.  For the parent receiving child support, child support can make a world of difference to the economic well-being of the family.  For the parent paying child support, too large a child support award can have a crippling effect for years to come.

A Mississippi court can award child support as part of a divorce or in a separate action.  The Mississippi child support guidelines are set out in Mississippi Code Section 43-19-101.  The guidelines determine the amount of support to be awarded from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent based on the number of children involved and the payor parent’s adjusted gross income.  The Mississippi child support guidelines are presumptively correct for people with an income between $5,000 and $50,000.  Under the guidelines, the noncustodial parent should pay the following:

  • 1 child, 14%
  • 2 children, 20%
  • 3 children, 22%
  • 4 children, 24%
  • 5 or more children, 26%

The court, however, may award an upward or downward departure from the guidelines based on the following factors set out in Mississippi Code Section 43-19-103:

  1. Extraordinary medical, educational, dental, or psychological expenses
  2. Independent income of the child
  3. Payment of both child support and spousal support to the custodial parent
  4. Seasonal variations in either parents income or expenses
  5. Age of the child, particularly factoring in the greater needs of older children
  6. Special needs that had traditionally been met within the family budget, even if the needs exceed the support proposed by the guidelines
  7. Your specific custody arrangement; i.e. does the noncustodial parent spend considerable time with the children, alleviating the financial obligations of the custodial spouse; or, on the other hand, does the noncustodial parent refrain from doing activities with the child, leaving more of a burden on the custodial parent
  8. Total available assets of all parties
  9. Any other adjustment necessary to achieve an equitable result

Before determining the amount of child support to be awarded per the guidelines and the extraordinary considerations, the noncustodial parent’s gross income must first be calculated.  Gross income will include income from overtime and second jobs, but may not include onetime bonuses and other inconsistent forms of income.  After adjusting the noncustodial parent’s gross income for taxes and other child support obligations, the guidelines are then applied.  The court may also award, in addition to the basic child support award, payment for health insurance, college expenses, and other such expenses the court deems necessary.

The child support guidelines will not apply in every scenario.  For instance, in certain joint custody arrangements, the guidelines should not apply as they contemplate a scenario in which there exists a clear custodial and noncustodial parent.  Child support obligations will continue until a child reaches the age of 21, unless the child is emancipated before then. Given the long-term nature of the obligation, it is important that you ensure you are either receiving the correct amount of child support or paying the proper sum.

The Law Office of Matthew S. Poole has extensive experience in the field of child support.  We know the ins and outs of the child support guidelines and will fight for you to achieve that award your children so deserve, or lessen the burden of an unjust award.  You need a skilled Mississippi family law attorney to examine the facts of your case and determine whether the child support guidelines should apply to you, or whether a departure is warranted.  Call Matthew S. Poole today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.

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