Mississippi Custody and Visitation Schedules

How do I make my Mississippi custody and visitation schedule?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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How can the laws of Mississippi help me make my custody schedule?

It is important to be familiar with the family laws of the state when creating a child visitation schedule in Mississippi so that you can create a schedule that serves the best interests of your child while it complies with the law.

Some of these laws can be found in the Mississippi Code, Title 93, Domestic Relations.

The Code defines the different kinds of custody and explains how custody may be awarded.

The law allows for parents in family dissolution cases to submit their own parenting plans and child visitation schedules. It explains how the child visitation schedules may be determined by the court.

What are the different types of custody in the State of Mississippi?

Mississippi law provides the following custody definitions in Title 19, Chapter 24 (Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-24-5):

  • Physical custody involves the periods of time when a parent resides with the child and when the child is in the care of that parent.
  • Legal custody pertains to the authority over the child and the ability to make important decisions regarding the child, such as medical, educational and religious decisions.
  • Joint custody means the parents share both legal and physical custody of the child.
  • Joint legal custody means both parents are involved in the major responsibilities and decisions about the child.
  • Joint physical custody means the parents share time with the child in a manner that assures the child plenty of time with both parents.

Before you begin writing your child visitation schedule, you will need to determine what type of custody each of you will have.

What are the different ways custody may be awarded in Mississippi?

The court believes it's in the best interest of the child to grant joint custody when the parents request it.

In contested cases where the parents are unable to agree, the judge makes the decision and awards custody.

The different ways the court may award custody to two parents (Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-24-1) are:

  • Joint custody (physical and legal) to both of the parents so that they may share time with the child on a regular, frequent, ongoing basis
  • Joint physical custody to both parents, but legal custody to only one parent
  • Joint legal custody to both parents, but physical custody to only one parent
  • Physical custody and legal custody to only one parent
  • Physical and legal custody to an outside party if both parents are found to be unfit

As the court awards custody and visitation in the child's best interests, it is important for the you to realize that, provided there are no instances of abuse, neglect, domestic violence or other situations that would prove harmful to the child, your child will benefit from having both of you in their life.

Doesn't custody in Mississippi usually go to the mother?

While that may be the perception, the law has no custodial preference for mothers (Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-24-7). Fathers are equally entitled to seek custody.

Children benefit from having a relationship with both parents. Keep this in mind when creating a child visitation schedule.

What should I include in my Mississippi custody and visitation schedule?

A child visitation schedule in the State of Mississippi should be comprised of three key elements:

  • A regular residential schedule that dictates when a child will spend time with each parent, on an ongoing basis. Some parents opt to exchange the child every other weekend with an extra day or evening of visitation mid-week. Some parents share their child on a 4-3-3-4 schedule that gives the child plenty of time with both parents. Whatever works best for the child is acceptable.
  • A holiday schedule that regulates when the child will spend time with the parents on the holidays and other special days. The holiday schedule outranks the regular schedule, so extra provisions should be made to address situations where Father's Day falls on the mother's weekend, etc. A lot of parents opt to rotate the holidays during the year, then alternate that schedule each year.
  • A vacation schedule that allows the child extended time with each parent on school breaks and the parents' personal vacations. Many parents opt to generalize the school vacation times, such as "the first week of winter break with the father; the second week with the mother" and simply include a few rules, such as the amount of time advance notice should be given prior to taking the child for an extended amount of time for personal vacations.

Are grandparents entitled to visitation rights in the State of Mississippi?

Yes. The State of Mississippi allows grandparents to seek and be awarded visitation rights to a child (Miss. Code Ann. § 93-16-3).

Grandparents may petition the court for visitation rights to a grandchild in the event that one of the parents dies or loses custodial and visitation rights.

Grandparents may also petition the court for visitation rights if the grandparent has previously established a good relationship with the child and a parent refuses to allow the grandparent to see the child.

If this situation is applicable, you may include the time the grandparents have visitation with the child and factor it into your child visitation schedule.

How do I know I am making my Mississippi custody schedule correctly?

By applying what you have learned about the law to your schedule, you'll be able to make the right schedule for your situation. If you use the needs of your child as the foundation of your schedule, you will make one that best serves your child's needs.

The goal behind any custody and visitation schedule is to make the custody situation smoother and easier to deal with.

Hopefully, once you have the parenting time figured out, you'll be able to focus on enjoying the time you have with your child.

The top twenty cities in Mississippi (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Jackson, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Biloxi, Southhaven, Meridian, Tupelo, Greenville, Olive Branch, Clinton, Vicksburg, Horn Lake, Pearl, Starkville, Columbus, Pascagoula, Brandon, Ridgeland, Laurel, Clarksdale.

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