The Mississippi Child Custody Process and the Interests of the Child

One of the most common issues within a child custody hearing is “what is in the best interest of the child?” In Mississippi, that line sometimes becomes blurred as the state can recognize joint custody rights for separated or divorced parents along with the legal recognition of grandparent visitation rights. 

Mississippi family court will consider several factors including the child’s pre-hearing health, emotional ties, and who played the role of primary caregiver up to that point. If the child is 12 or older, he/she may give the court a preference for custody if both parents are deemed fit.

The Types of Child Custody in Mississippi 

If the parents cannot come to a suitable custody agreement that preserves the child’s best interests, a judge would award one of the following types of custody outlined under Mississippi Code 93-5-24.

Joint Legal Custody

Most judges prefer to award this option as it allows both parents to be a part of the child’s life. Schooling and religious decisions can be made jointly and both parents’ input is considered. 

Sole Legal Custody

If one parent is awarded sole legal custody (for a host of reasons that typically revolve around the child’s best interests) that parents can make major decisions for the child without the other parent’s input. 

Joint Physical Custody 

Joint physical custody arrangements include options where one parent may not spend the same amount of time with a child as the other. Sometimes, a Mississippi judge may deem this option harder on the child, so he or she may try to avoid it, if possible. 

Sole Physical Custody

This is a rare occurrence because if a judge deems that parents can cooperate well enough to share physical custody, then they are usually able to share the responsibility involved with decisions as well. 

Parental Visitation in Mississippi

If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, he or she will be designated as the “primary custodial parent”. The other “noncustodial parent” will typically receive parceled out visitation rights. 

In cases where the noncustodial parent has violence, criminal, or substance abuse issues, a judge may order supervised visitation. 

The Question of the Third Party

If a third party is given sole custody as deemed for the child’s best interest, that party is now the child’s primary guardian. Grandparents typically don’t receive any special consideration, but they can petition the court for visitation in certain situations such as divorce, termination of parental rights of death of one of the parents. 


Child Custody cases are often emotional and difficult battles and the Law Offices of Rusty Williard understands how to advocate for you and your child in Mississippi family court. Call us today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how our Jackson and Brandon, MS child custody team handles each case with compassion and care.