WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: Mississippi

Mississippi Child Support

Laws current as of
July 3, 2024

Basic information on child support in Mississippi.

How can I get a child support order?

One way to get a child support order is to file in court. If your child mostly lives with you, you can get child support as part of a court order in these types of cases:

  • divorce;
  • paternity;
  • child custody;
  • family support; or
  •  inter-state child support.1

You and the other parent can also make a written support agreement that you get notarized and file in court.2

A second way to get child support is to apply for child support services with the Mississippi Department of Human Services. They can help parents do the following:

  • get a court order for child support and health insurance (medical support);
  • find the other parent;
  • establish paternity;
  • enforce court orders for child support and medical support;
  • change (modify) a support order;
  • work with other states, countries, and tribal nations to establish and enforce support when one parent does not live in Mississippi or has assets in another state; and
  • collect or make child support payments.3

If you get public benefits such as TANF, SNAP, or Medicaid, you will be referred automatically to the Mississippi Department of Human Services for child support services. Children in foster care are also referred automatically.3

Note: Unwed parents must take steps to establish legal paternity before the judge can order child support.4 However, the judge can give you a temporary child support order while the paternity case is going on.5

1 Miss. Code §§ 93-5-23; 93-9-9; 93-11-65; 93-25-401
2 Miss. Code § 43-19-33
3 Miss. Code § 43-19-31; see Understanding Child Support: A Handbook for Parents by the Mississippi Department of Human Services
4 See Miss. Code § 93-9-9
5 Miss. Code § 93-11-65

How long does child support last?

A parent’s legal responsibility to pay child support usually ends when the child becomes “emancipated.” A child becomes emancipated when the child does any one of these things:

  • turns 21-years-old;
  • gets married;
  • joins the military and serves full-time; or
  • gets convicted of a felony and sentenced to two or more years in prison.1

The judge may also decide that a parent no longer has to pay child support if the child does any of these things:

  • stops going to school full-time when the child is 18 years old or older and does not have a disability;
  • before the child is 21, s/he chooses to move out of the home of his/her custodial parent or guardian, lives independently, works full-time, and stops pursuing his/her education;
  • lives with another person without the approval of the parent who has to pay support;2 or
  • is incarcerated but not emancipated - for example, if the child gets convicted of a lesser crime that’s not a felony, or the child is sentenced to less than two years in prison. Note: A parent will not have to pay child support while the child is incarcerated but s/he may have to start paying again once the child is released.3

Note: Once a child becomes emancipated, a parent who owes back child support (arrears) from before the child became emancipated is still responsible for paying the arrears.4

1 Miss. Code § 93-11-65(8)(a)
2 Miss. Code § 93-11-65(8)(b)
3 Miss. Code § 93-11-65(8)(a)
4 Miss. Code § 93-11-65(9)

How is the amount of child support calculated?

The judge uses the Mississippi Child Support Award Guidelines to set the child support amount.1 The guidelines say what percent of a parent’s “adjusted gross income” is supposed to go to child support. The amount depends on how many children the parent has to support.1

You can see the guidelines in section 43-19-101 on our Selected Mississippi Statutes page.

To get a parent’s “adjusted gross income,” the judge will:

  1. calculate the total income of the noncustodial (“absent”) parent; and
  2. subtract certain deductions for:
    • taxes;
    • Social Security contributions;
    • mandatory contributions to retirement and disability; and
    • support the parent pays for other children.2

The law assumes that the guidelines set the right amount of child support unless there are specific facts that show otherwise.3 To understand when the judge may order a different amount, read Can a child support order ever be different from what the Mississippi Child Support Award Guidelines say?

1 Miss. Code § 43-19-101(1)
2 Miss. Code § 43-19-101(3)
3 Miss. Code §§ 43-19-101(1); 43-19-101(2); 43-19-103

Can a child support order ever be different from what the Mississippi Child Support Award Guidelines say?

The judge must use the Mississippi Child Support Award Guidelines to set a child support amount unless s/he believes it is unfair or inappropriate for a specific case. If the judge orders a different amount, s/he must clearly explain why and how it differs (deviates) from the guidelines.1

The Mississippi law lists ten situations that can be exceptions to the guidelines so that a judge might set a different support amount. The judge considers these exceptions on a case-by-case basis.2 The exceptional situations are as follows:

  1. the family has extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses;
  2. the child has an independent income;
  3. the noncustodial parent who has to pay child support also pays spousal support to the custodial parent;
  4. there are seasonal variations in one or both parents’ incomes or expenses;
  5. the child’s age, taking into account the greater needs of older children;
  6. the child has special needs that the family pays for, and paying for those needs will cause the support amount to be higher than what the guidelines say;
  7. the shared parental arrangement in a particular case calls for a different amount - for example, if:
    • the noncustodial parent spends a lot of time with the child, which reduces the custodial parent’s expenses;
    • the noncustodial parent refuses to be involved in the child’s activities; or
    • the custodial parent contributes a lot of “homemaking services;”
  8. the total assets that the noncustodial parent, the custodial parent, and the child have available;
  9. the noncustodial parent has a disability, or s/he has to pay for child care so that s/he can work or look for work; or
  10. any other situation when the judge may need to adjust the support amount to get a fair (equitable) result - for example, if a parent has a reasonable and necessary expense or debt.3

1 Miss. Code §§ 43-19-101(1); 43-19-101(2); 43-19-103
2 Miss. Code § 43-19-103
3 Miss. Code § 43-19-103(a), (j)

Where can I find additional information about child support in Mississippi?

The Mississippi Department of Human Services Child Support Program can sometimes help you get the child support you are owed. You can find information about their services and answers to common child support questions on their website. They also have a Child Support Handbook for Parents, available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

The Mississippi Bar Association has some information about parents’ child support obligations on their website.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. These links are for your information only.