Mississippi uses the Percentage of Income Model in determining child support obligations. It is based on the paying parent’s monthly adjusted gross income (AGI) and the number of children for whom support is being ordered.
The AGI is determined by totaling gross income from all potential sources that may reasonably be expected to be available to the absent parent, minus the following deductions:
- Federal, state and local taxes;
- Social security contributions;
- Retirement and disability contributions except any voluntary retirement and disability contributions;
- If the absent parent is subject to an existing court order for another child(ren), subtract the amount of that court-ordered support; and
- If the absent parent is also the parent of another child(ren) residing with him/her, the court may subtract an amount that it deems appropriate to account for the needs of the child(ren).
The total annual amount of the AGI is computed and then divided by 12 to obtain the monthly amount of AGI.
When the obligor’s monthly AGI is more than $50,000 or less than $5,000, the court shall make a written finding in the record regarding whether or the guidelines are reasonable. Otherwise, the following schedule applies:
- 14% for one child;
20% for two children;
22% for three children;
24% for four children; and
26% for five or more children.
The court presumes that the amount of support determined by the established guidelines shall be just and appropriate. To overcome this presumption, it must be found that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case, as determined according to the following criteria:
- Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational or dental expenses;
- Independent income of the child;
- The payment of both child support and spousal support to the receiving parent;
- Seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses;
- The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children;
- Special needs that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though fulfilling of those needs will cause the support to exceed the proposed guidelines;
- The particular shared parental arrangement, such as when the non-custodial parent spends a great deal of time with the children reducing the custodial parent’s financial costs, or the refusal of the non-custodial parent to become involved in the activities of the child;
- Total available assets of the receiving parent, paying parent and the child; and
- Any other adjustment which is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt.
When it’s proven that both parents have separate incomes or estates, the court may require that each parent contribute to the support and maintenance of the children of the marriage in proportion to the relative financial ability of each.
All orders involving support of minor children, as a matter of law, shall include reasonable medical support.
If a legally responsible parent has health insurance available to him/her through an employer or organization that may extend benefits to the dependents of that parent, any order of support issued against the parent may require him/her to exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of the children for whom he/she is legally responsible to support.
Whenever the court has ordered child support, but no bond, sureties or other guarantee has been required to secure the payments, and the support payments remain unpaid for a period of at least thirty (30) days, the court may, upon petition of the receiving parent, enter an order requiring that bond, sureties or other security be given by the paying parent, the amount and sufficiency of which shall be approved by the court. The obligor shall, as in other civil actions, be served with process and shall be entitled to a hearing in such case.
The duty of support of a child terminates upon the child’s emancipation, which occurs when the child does one of the following:
- Reaches the age of 21 years;
- Joins the military and serves on a full-time basis; or
- Is convicted of a felony and is sentenced to incarceration of two or more years for committing the felony.
The court may also determine that emancipation has occurred and no other support obligation exists when the child does one of the following:
- Discontinues full-time enrollment in school having attained the age of 18 years, unless the child is disabled;
- Voluntarily moves from the home of the custodial parent or guardian, establishes independent living arrangements, obtains full-time employment and discontinues educational endeavors prior to attaining the age of 21 years; or
- Cohabits with another person without the approval of the parent obligated to pay support.
The duty of support of a child who is incarcerated but not emancipated shall be suspended for the period of the child’s incarceration.