The Statute of Limitations on Child Support in Mississippi

In Mississippi, child support is considered an important legal issue. It is usually assigned to one parent after a divorce when custody is awarded to the other parent. In a typical case, the child will live at one parent’s house (called the custodial parent), and the other parent (noncustodial parent) will set up visitation times and pay some percentage of their income to the custodial parent. Child support is intended to last until the child is 21 years old or they become married or join the military. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of child support and how far back child support obligations can go.

Types of Custody

There are two main types of child custody and four options for sustaining it. There is sole or joint legal custody and sole or joint physical custody. Physical custody refers to where and with whom the child will live. Either one parent can have the child full-time, or both parents can equally share physical custody. If physical custody is shared evenly, and the two parents earn a similar income, child support may not be necessary. If one parent earns significantly more, that parent will be required to pay support even if physical custody is shared. This is because Mississippi attempts to provide the child with the same financial opportunities they would have had if their parents had stayed together.

The other type of custody is legal custody. It can also be divided into sole physical custody or shared. Legal custody can be better understood as guardianship. It refers to who will be allowed to make decisions that impact the child’s future. In a typical arrangement, one parent will retain physical custody while both share legal custody. The noncustodial parent may see their child on the weekends but will still be required to pay some amount of child support to the parent that holds physical custody

Types of Child Support

There are three types of child support. There is standard child support, back support, and retroactive support. Typical child support is determined by a mathematical equation that takes into account the noncustodial parent’s income and how many children they are supporting. With one child, support will equal 14% of that parent’s net income. With two children, the percentage is raised to 20%. Three children raise the number to 22%, four bring it to 24%, and five or more children will require 26% of the noncustodial parent’s net income.

Back Child Support

Back child support refers to any support payment owed but not paid. It is a fancy legal term meaning debt you have accrued by missing your child support payments. The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) works with state and federal agencies and can impose harsh penalties for missing payments. These agencies can impose income withholding, tax refund interceptions, suspension of licenses, and even jail time for delinquent payments. In fact, back child support is the only type of debt in the U.S. that can land you in jail for nonpayment.

Retroactive Child Support

Retroactive child support is a bit different. Retroactive support is necessary in any situation in which the custodial parent raised the child for a period of time before the child support order was issued. This could mean that a mother raised her child for several years alone but then was able to prove paternity. In this case, the court would issue a child support order going forward and probably assign several years of retroactive support for the time she parented alone.

Retroactive support may also be used when the custodial parent paid for costly medical treatments for their child before the child support order was in place. Retroactive support can follow the support guidelines concerning the required percentage in the support order (14%, 20%, etc.) Or it can be in the form of “fair share” support, in which support is paid for the actual costs of parenting alone. It can also be paid directly to the state if the custodial parent received public assistance for the child while the noncustodial parent should have been paying support.

The Statute of Limitations on Child Support in Mississippi

So retroactive support can be issued for several years, depending on the case, but it can never be required for longer than seven years. Seven years is the statute of limitations on retroactive support in Mississippi. It was changed to seven years in 1991. Before that, the limit was only one year.


If you have questions about child support, back support, or retroactive support, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797.