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Legal Information: Mississippi


January 27, 2020

Can a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?

If the judge finds that a parent has a history of committing family violence, the judge should assume that it is not in the child’s best interest for the abusive parent to have sole or joint legal and physical custody. However, the abusive parent can present evidence to try to change the judge’s mind. The judge may find that there is a history of committing family violence if:

  • one incident of family violence has caused you serious bodily injury; or
  • there has been a pattern of family violence against you, your family/household member, or the abusive parent’s family/household member.1

The judge also has to make a written statement explaining how the family violence affected his/her custody decision.1 In deciding whether to grant custody to a parent who committed violence, the judge will consider whether or not the parent who committed family violence:

  • has shown that giving him/her sole or joint physical or legal custody of the child is in the best interest of the child due to the other parent’s absence, mental illness, substance abuse or another situation that affects the best interest of the child;
  • has successfully finished a batterer’s treatment program, an alcohol or drug abuse counseling program, or a parenting class if the judge decides any of these programs are appropriate;
  • is on probation or parole or has a restraining order issued against him/her and whether or not s/he has complied with its terms and conditions; and
  • has committed any other acts of domestic violence.2

1 Miss. Code § 93-5-24(9)(a)(i)
2 Miss. Code § 93-5-24(9)(a)(iii)