Category Archives: Child Support

Dads Have Rights Too!

(I recently spoke to a group of fathers, and a few others, about a Father’s Rights in a custody action. I also had a request, this week, from an online fan about blogging specifically about Father’s Rights. I agreed to do it, but these “Rights” apply to parents regardless of gender.)

Dads Have Rights Too!

One of the most frustrating things in my practice is a father who says he wants rights to his children but is unwilling to put his money where his mouth is, figuratively and literally.  Those dads want the “fun” parts of the job and to spend time with the children, but do not want to do the “work” and do not want to pay child support or think whatever they are paying is enough. So first things first, pay your support, pay it on time and pay it every time. And when the need arises pay for something extra. With the support issue out of the way, in an initial custody determination, be it a divorce situation or a paternity/custody matter, mom and dad are on a level playing field.  Yes, equal.  Equal at least as far as the facts support that statement.

Great Dad

 

In a divorce situation or a paternity/custody matter, mom and dad are on a level playing field.  Yes, equal.  Equal at least as far as the facts support that statement.

 

 

The Court must conduct what is called an Albright Analysis (blogged about earlier, click here).  This analysis looks at a number of factors including, the continuity of care* or who has been doing what for the child up to that point where you find yourself in Court, and what is in the best interest of the child. (*in initial determinations this is the biggest factor, barring extraordinary circumstances).

If you are dad and 1) have been doing the bulk of the child care, 2) are a good, 3) safe, and 4) active parent there is no genuine threat to you in a custody battle because of your gender.  However, if mom has been doing the 1) day to day care, 2) taking to and from school and3)  the doctor and 4) soccer and 5) everything else, and you, as dad, spend time with the children on the weekends when you are not at work – just because mom gets custody does not mean the system was fixed and the mom always wins.

Now the law does recognize a term called the tender years doctrine – which states a very young child should be with the mother, unless there is a compelling reason why the child should not, ie: mom is unfit- meaning a danger to the child.  Sometimes if your child is very young and mom has the controls you just have to bide your time.  The tender years ends between 2-3 years of age, with no definite, exact age.

But dads can and do get custody if the facts are there to support that outcome.

The other big peeve is dads that do not exercise their visitation.  There is common acceptance out there that standard visitation is every other weekend (EOW), Friday to Sunday, Wednesday afternoons when you don’t have the weekend, alternating major holidays and 4-5 weeks in the summer.  And some dad’s don’t take advantage of it.  I call “standard visitation” a misnomer because there is technically no such thing as “standard visitation,” though that is in fact what is quite often ordered and/or agreed to.

But there is also a trend, over the last several years, where dads are getting more time, if they want it and meet a few other requirements.  If dad has been an involved dad, wants more time and the parties live in the same community that EOW can be expanded to Friday to Monday or Thursday to Monday of every other weekend.  Research shows that dad being responsible for a school night results in the kids doing better. It also makes dad responsible for time that is not all “Fun” time AND it puts most of the pick-up and drop-offs at school, which means less of a chance of an altercation with mom.  Dads can be more than every other weekend dads if they are willing to do it.

Go to their ballgames, school programs, and dance recitals.  Know who their teachers are and doctors.  Don’t rely on mom for all of that and be mad when she does not give it to you.  Get it yourself.  How?  Go to the school. Call the Dr.’s office. Mississippi law provides  a means for you to have the right to those records.  MCA Section. 93-5-26. (click here).

Finally, don’t be intimidated by mom and her lawyer. Hire a lawyer. (Don’t say you can’t afford one, you cannot afford to NOT have an attorney).  Mom and her attorney will not run you over unless your conduct provides them the truck to do it. And if your conduct does provide that truck, STOP.  Act right. Do it for your children and yourself.

21 (And We’re Not Talking About BlackJack) Age of Majority – Emancipation

The age of majority in Mississippi is 21.  That means you pay child support and provide benefits for your child until he or she attains the age of 21.  It is NOT 18.  While your child may think he or she is grown at age 18, the state of Mississippi says otherwise. MCA 93-11-65.  The age of majority is also synonymous with emancipation, though a child may be judicially emancipated prior to 21.

So you are paying until 21, but there are exceptions.

Emancipation is a process of having the child “declared” an adult  shall occur upon the child;

  • Marrying
  • Joining the military and serves on a full-time basis
  • Is convicted of a felony and is sentenced to incarceration of two (2) or more years for committing such felony

Other forms of Emancipation include Court-Ordered Emancipation when your child;

  • Discontinues full-time enrollment in school having attained the age of eighteen (18) years, unless the child is disabled
  • Voluntarily moves from the home of the custodial parent or guardian, and establishes independent living arrangements, obtains full-time employment and discontinues educational endeavors prior to attaining the age of twenty-one (21)
  • Cohabits with another person without the approval of the parent obligated to pay support; cohabits generally means living together as if husband and wife.

Mississippi has lower rates, meaning amounts of child support, when compared with other states nationally, however, Mississippi makes up for it by extending payments to 21 in most instances.

Click here for Mississippi Child Support Rates

Pay your child support and pay it on time.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that files Contempt actions against persons that are not paying their Child Support.  Don’t be one of those persons!   Trust the Bow Tie.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@wmtlawfirm.com.

Child Support; What you Owe

Mississippi Code Section § 43-19-101 specifically details the Child Support Award guidelines.

Number Of Children              Percentage Of Adjusted Gross Income   
1                                                             14%
2                                                            20%
3                                                            22%
4                                                            24%
5 or more                                        26%

Basically you take your gross income for the year and subtract state and federal taxes, and mandatory deductions.  This leaves you with your adjusted gross income. Divide this amount by 12.  This equals your monthly adjusted gross income.  Multiply this number by the appropriate percentage and that is the amount of child support you owe.  For example. Let’s say that you make $3,250 per month, gross. First, deduct state and federal taxes, Social Security and Medicare. (State $125, Federal $200, Soc Sec. $180, Medicare $47 = $552.00 in deductions.) $3,250.00 – 552.00= $2,698.00.  Multiply this by 14%.  $2,698.00 x .14= $377.72  Your monthly obligation is $380 in child support.

Below is the paraphrased statute and includes more detailed information for child support calculations.
The amount of “adjusted gross income” as that term is used in subsection (1) of this section shall be calculated as follows:
  1)  Determine gross income

What is counted towards “gross income” income for child support purposes?

  • wages and salary income;
  • income from self employment;
  • income from commissions;
  • income from investments, including dividends, interest income and income on any trust account or property;
  • absent parent’s portion of any joint income of both parents;
  • workers’ compensation, disability, unemployment, annuity and retirement benefits, including an individual retirement account (IRA);
  • any other payments made by any person, private entity, federal or state government or any unit of local government;
  • alimony;
  • any income earned from an interest in or from inherited property;
  • any other form of earned income; and
  • (Not to be Counted) However, gross income shall exclude any monetary benefits derived from a second household, such as income of the absent parent’s current spouse;

2) Subtract the following legally mandated deductions:

  • Federal, state and local taxes;
  • Social security contributions;
  • Retirement and disability contributions (except any voluntary retirement and disability contributions* and most are voluntary*);
  • If the absent parent is subject to an existing court order for another child or children, subtract the amount of that court-ordered support;
  •  If the absent parent is also the parent of another child or other children residing with him, then the court may subtract an amount that it deems appropriate to account for the needs of said child or children;

3) Compute the total annual amount of adjusted gross income based on the above,

4) Divide this amount by twelve (12) to obtain the monthly amount of adjusted gross income.

5)  Multiply the monthly amount of adjusted gross income by the appropriate percentage

**The statute applies in cases in which the adjusted gross income as defined in this section is more than  One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($ 100,000.00) or less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($ 10,000.00), the court shall make a written finding in the record as to whether or not the application of the guidelines established in this section is reasonable.** (The figures above were changed by the MS legislature in the 2013 session from $5k-$50k, the above figures are the current amounts)

What else is included over and above child support?

6) All orders involving support of minor children, as a matter of law, shall include reasonable medical support. Notice to the obligated parent’s employer that medical support has been ordered shall be on a form as prescribed by the Department of Human Services. In any case in which the support of any child is involved, the court shall make the following findings either on the record or in the judgment:

(a) The availability to all parties of health insurance coverage for the child(ren);
(b) The cost of health insurance coverage to all parties.

The court shall then make appropriate provisions in the judgment for the provision of health insurance coverage for the child(ren) in the manner that is in the best interests of the child(ren). If the court requires the custodial parent to obtain the coverage then its cost shall be taken into account in establishing the child support award. If the court determines that health insurance coverage is not available to any party or that it is not available to either party at a cost that is reasonable as compared to the income of the parties, then the court shall make specific findings as to such either on the record or in the judgment. In that event, the court shall make appropriate provisions in the judgment for the payment of medical expenses of the child(ren) in the absence of health insurance coverage.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and encourages you to have an attorney review your support obligations annually.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms

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