Unlike child custody, where the chancellor looks at the best interest of a child, the amount of child support is set by the Mississippi legislature using percentages. These percentages are set between 14 to 26 percent based on the number of children.
When there is a fault-based divorce, the chancellor will calculate the amount owed, if any. When there is a divorce based upon irreconcilable differences, the divorcing spouses may decide in the property settlement agreement the amount payable to the spouse with physical custody subject to the approval of the chancellor.
One issue that occurs with some frequency is when the divorcing spouses agree that no one pays child support. There may be times when the parents have reached the point where they just want to be divorced that they are willing to renounce any child support payments. They then sign the property settlement agreement and submit it to the chancellor for approval along with their order and decree of divorce. The Mississippi Supreme Court, however, has held that the child support paid to the custodial parent is for the best interest of the child. As such, the child’s rights to their parent’s support cannot be contracted away. This is one example of why it may be important to consult with an attorney when child support and custody are issues.
Another problem that frequently occurs is when one of the parents wants to change the amount of child support. Child support may be increased or decreased when there has been a material change of circumstances. There is a laundry list of factors the chancellor may use to determine if there has been a material change in circumstance. For example, if the custodial parent seeks to increase the amount of child support, the chancellor will look at 3 factors: a substantial increase in the noncustodial parent’s income; inflation; and an increase cost of raising older children.
If you have or may have a situation concerning a claim of a material change in circumstances, it is best to consult with an attorney before you proceed on your own in court.