Child Support

Miss. Code Ann. § 43-19-101 outlines guidelines for awarding or modifying child support awards.  These guidelines, which create a rebuttable presumption, indicate that child support awards should be based on the number of children  and a specified percentage of the non-custodial parent's adjusted gross income (AGI) as follows:       

 

                                   14% for one (1) child

                                   20% for two (2) children

                                   22% for three (3) children

                                   24% for four (4) children

                                   26% for five (5) or more children. 

 

In order for a non-custodial parent’s obligation under a child support order to be modified, a substantial and material change in circumstances must occur after the original decree.  However, the change must have been unforeseeable at the time of the original decree.  The following factors are analyzed in determining whether a material change in circumstances has occurred:  (1) a substantial increase in the non-custodial parent’s income, (2) an increase in the child’s expenses, (3) an increase in the needs of older children, (4) inflation, (5) a child’s health and special medical or psychological needs, (6) the parties’ relative financial condition and earning capacity, (7) the health and special needs of the parents, (8) the payor’s necessary living expenses, (9) each party’s tax liability, (10) a party’s free use of the residence, furnishings, or automobile, and (11) any other relevant facts and circumstances. 

 

If the court determines that modification of a child support order is warranted, the child support guidelines are applied to determine the appropriate amount of support in most cases.  As noted above, the base amount of child support ranges from 14% of the non-custodial parent’s AGI for one child to 26% of AGI for five or more children.  However, “if the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate,” the guidelines do not apply.   When the non-custodial parent’s AGI “is more than One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) or less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), written findings as to the reasonableness of the guidelines are required.  In some circumstances, the non-custodial parent can be ordered to pay support based on earning capacity.  However, child support is based on actual income if reduced income is not due to voluntary acts of the non-custodial parent.       

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