At What Age Can A Mississippi Court Consider a Child’s Custody Preference?

In some child custody cases, the child is old enough to have legal, valid input regarding their own interest. The state of Mississippi has specific laws that outline and direct the court to listen to a child in some instances, and this post will dive into that in more detail.

If a child is age 12 or older, Mississippi courts will consider that child’s preference for custody. Regardless of the broader understanding of the child’s maturity, Mississippi law mandates that children 11 or younger cannot offer their own custody consideration.

What Can a Child State for Custodial Preference in Mississippi?

If each parent meets the following provisions, the child can state a parental preference:

  • each parent is fit to have custody of the child
  • each parent can adequately provide for the child’s care
  • it is genuinely in the child’s best interest to live with said parent

A judge could potentially overrule the child if another decision is deemed in their best interest. The court has to state on the record why this is the right decision if it does overrule the of-age child.

Can a Child Refuse Visitation in Mississippi?

Parents are responsible for encouraging a relationship with their ex-spouse. 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, they could file a custodial “preference statement,” which would indicate a custody preference. A judge could also appoint an outside evaluator to speak with the child outside of court, then present those findings on the record.


Child custody can get complicated quickly, even in lightly contentious negotiations. It’s essential to have an experienced 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.