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Child Custody in Mississippi

There are 2 types of child custody under Mississippi law:

Physical Custody : The right to have the child reside with or be under the care and one of the parents.

Legal Custody : The decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of the child.

Within the framework of those two types of custody, the custody of a child may be awarded as follows, according to the best interests of the child: (a) physical and legal custody to both parents jointly; (b) physical custody to both parents jointly and legal custody to either parent; (c) legal custody to both parents jointly and physical custody to either parent; (d) physical and legal custody to either parent.

When the court orders "joint physical custody," each of the parents is entitled to significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody must be shared by the parents in such a way to assure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents. When the court orders "joint legal custody," the parents share the decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority relating to the health, education and welfare of a child.

An award of joint legal custody obligates the parents to exchange information concerning the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and to confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority. However, access to records and information pertaining to a minor child, including to medical, dental and school records, may not be denied to a parent on the basis that the parent is not the child's custodial parent if that parent's parental rights have not been terminated by adoption or by a termination of parental rights proceeding.

When determining how custody of children should be allocated, the most important consideration is the best interests and welfare of the child. The following additional factors are also considered:

  • Age, health, sex of the child.
  • Continuity of care prior to the separation.
  • Parenting skills and willingness and capacity to provide primary child care.
  • Employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment.
  • Physical and mental health and age of the parents.
  • Emotional ties of the parent and the child.
  • Moral fitness of the parents.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The preference of the child at the age sufficient, by law, to express a preference.
  • Stability of home and employment of each parent.
  • Other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship.

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