How Is Child Custody in Mississippi Decided?

Child custody in Mississippi divorce cases can be a highly contentious issue. The following post explains more about what to expect if you’re heading towards a battle for sole or joint custody.

Factors That Affect Child Custody in a Mississippi Divorce

Mississippi laws state that the custody arrangement must be in “the best interest of the child”. The “best interest” can be highly subjective, and ultimately a judge determine if both spouses can’t agree on a suitable plan.

Judges consider several factors, including:

  • Age, health, and sex of the child
  • Continuity of care by one parent along with each parent’s abilities
  • The employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment
  • Physical and mental health and age of the parents along with emotional ties between parents and children
  • Parents’ moral fitness
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The preference of the child (if the child is aged 12 or older)

Mississippi allows joint custody for separated or divorced parents, and grandparents may also earn visitation rights where the courts deem appropriate. While a child’s wishes are not formally recognized, many courts will at least consider what the child would like if they are of a proper age to offer their own thoughts on the matter.

Custody Hearing Procedure in Mississippi

If both parents can agree to their own custody arrangement, courts will typically honor it. If the two sides cannot agree, a hearing in family court might be the next step. The primary concern for any court in creating a custody arrangement is the child’s best interests and a hearing is one main way to attempt to make this happen.

Most “best interests” factors focus on the child, including consistency and continuity in their family life, community, and education. Additional factors may focus on the parents’ abilities such as which one can take care of the child’s daily needs while maintaining a loving, stable, and nurturing relationship with the child.


The Law Offices of Rusty Williard are compassionate advocates, putting the needs of your children first. If you’re working through these contentious negotiations (or are on your way towards them) in Mississippi, call (601) 824-9797 to learn more about our experience and schedule a free consultation.