In some child custody cases, the child is old enough to have legal, valid input on his or her own interest. The state of Mississippi has specific laws that outline and direct the court to listen to a child in certain cases.
If a child is age 12 or older, Mississippi courts will consider that child’s preference for custody. Regardless of what the larger understanding is of the child’s maturity, Mississippi law mandates that children 11 or younger don’t factor into a custody determination.
What Can a Child State for Preference in Mississippi?
The child can state a preference for which parent he or she wants to live with so long as the following stipulations are met:
- Each parent is fit to have custody of the child
- Each parent can adequately provide for the child’s care
- It is truly in the child’s best interest to live with said parent
A judge could potentially overrule the child if another decision is deemed in his or her best interests. The court has to state on the record why this is the right decision if this is the one that the court decides to go with.
Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Mississippi?
Parents are responsible for encouraging a relationship with their ex-spouse and a judge will typically require that the child spend time with both parents, unless one is deemed a danger or otherwise unfit. It’s worth noting that the state’s age of majority is 21, meaning a child can legally live at home until that age and a parent’s child support would continue until that age or legal emancipation.
If the child doesn’t wish to testify in open court, he or she could file a custodial “preference statement,” which would indicate a preference in parental custody. A judge could also appoint an outside evaluator to speak with the child outside of court, then present those findings.
Child custody can get complicated quickly, even in lightly contentious negotiations. It’s important to have a qualified legal team on your side throughout it all. Mississippi residents trust The Law Offices of Rusty Williard in an array of family issues. Call 601-824-9797 today to learn more and schedule a free consultation.