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Mississippi Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents
Fighting for Child Custody in Mississippi
Each state has its own set of laws pertaining to child custody and visitation. In Mississippi, divorcing spouses may come to their own agreement regarding custody, subject to court approval, or the court may rule upon this matter if parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own. Custody will determine where the child will live and who will make decisions regarding the health, education, and welfare of the child. Mississippi allows for joint, or shared, custody, and also honors grandparents’ rights to visitation.
Best Interests of the Child
Child custody decisions are made based on the “best interests and welfare of the child.” While it is presumed that mothers and fathers have equal custody rights, this may not apply if one of the parents cannot provide a safe environment for a child. In these situations, sole custody may be granted to one parent with the other granted visitation rights only.
With any child custody matter, it is important to make sure you have a legal representative to protect your interests. A Jackson custody lawyer who understands the ins and outs of legal proceedings, case law, and legislation pertaining to child custody can protect your interests to the fullest extent.
Contact Chinn & Associates for knowledgeable insight regarding your custody matter.
How Is Custody Determined?
In Mississippi, child custody may be determined based on a number of specific factors. These are set forth primarily by the case of Albright v. Albright, 437 So. 2d 1003 (Miss. 1983).While the primary consideration is the best interests of the child or children, the following factors will be considered:
- The age, health, and gender of the child.
- The home, community, and school record of the child.
- The parenting skills of each parent.
- The willingness of each parent to provide primary care for the child.
- The employment of each parent and the responsibilities this employment carries.
- The age, physical health, and mental health of each parent.
- The moral fitness of each parent.
- The stability of the home environment of each parent.
- The emotional ties of the child to each parent.
- The child’s preference, if the child is old enough to express preference under law.
What are Child Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents in MS?
If a couple in Mississippi has a child together, and are unmarried, then the mother has automatic sole custody. If the father wishes to claim his rights, he must do so by establishing paternity. He can do so by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (with the mother co-signing), or filing a petition in court (if the mother denies it).
Child Custody & Mediation
In Mississippi, you can schedule mediation sessions to discuss child custody issues. Instead of taking your argument to court, you and your spouse can move towards amicable and alternative resolutions. Mediation for child custody issues dive into subjects including:
- The daily activities of the child
- Parenting time & visitation schedules
Mediation can save you time, energy, and money. It also tells the court that you and your spouse are willing to work together for the best interests of your child(ren).
Modification of Child Custody Orders
To seek modification of your original child custody orders, you must be able to prove that a material change in circumstances has affected the best interests of the child(ren). A family court will only allow for modification if the following exists:
- There is evidence of a material change in the custodial parents home
- The change negatively affected the welfare of the child
- Modifying the original agreement is in the best interests of the child
Modification can also apply to parents who relocate. Relocation, whether it be to a new state or several hundred miles away, can be considered a material change in circumstances and would warrant a modification if the non-custodial parent was not fully on board.
Ready to learn more? Contact attorney Mark Chinn at (601) 202-5594 today to discuss your case and concerns.
Founder of Chinn & Associates, Mark A. Chinn is a seasoned Jackson, Mississippi family law attorney who has dedicated his career to helping clients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. He is dedicated to using his talent and experience to empower his clients to lead the lives they want to lead.Read More
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