Tag Archives: 19

Changes in Family Law Coming?? (for Mississippi)

Word on the street is that some changes are coming in family law in Mississippi…

Possible changes include;

Changing the age of majority from 21 to 19.

This change involves the time period a non-custodial parent would have to provide child support and certain other child related benefits. It could impact health insurance, extra curricular expenses and school expenses- unrelated to college. The vast majority of other states is 18 or 19 years of age- for age of majority.

Another change is adding a ground for divorce if your marriage is irretrievably broken.

Irretrievable breakdown means that the marriage is broken beyond repair, this quasi-no-fault ground tells a court that at least one spouse wants to end the marriage, which generally should be enough for a judge to grant a divorce.

This is a potentially significant change and would align Mississippi divorce law with 48 other states. This change would significantly streamline the current fault vs. consent requirements.

In June of 2021, the Mississippi Legislature established this task force to study Mississippi’s domestic relations laws and to develop recommendations to the Legislature and the Mississippi Supreme Court to recommend needed changes in MS Family Law.

Members of the task force included;

• Senate Judiciary A Chairman Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula and House Judicial A Chairman Angela Cockerham of Magnolia;
• Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Griffis of Ridgeland, Chancellor Troy Odom of Brandon and Chancellor Jennifer Schloegel of Gulfport, appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph;
• Court of Appeals Judge David Neil McCarty of Jackson, appointed by Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Barnes;
• attorneys Mark A. Chinn of Jackson, Donna S. Smith of Columbus, A. Regnal Blackledge of Collins and Diandra Hosey of Jackson, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• attorney guardians ad litem Melissa B. DiFatta of Pascagoula and Lee Ann Turner of Starkville, appointed by the Mississippi Bar;
• Division of Child Support Enforcement Senior Attorney J. Michael McCauley of Bay St. Louis, appointed by Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Robert
G. Anderson;
• Professor Deborah Bell of Oxford, Senior Faculty in Service at the University of Mississippi School of Law, appointed by Dean Susan Duncan;
• Professor Shirley Kennedy of Jackson, Director of the Family and Children’s Law Center and Director of Child Advocacy Programs at Mississippi College School of Law, appointed by Dean Patricia Bennett.

Kudos to this fine group of lawyers, judges and academia for much needed changes in MS law.

Matthew Thompson is a family law and defense attorney in Mississippi and welcomes common sense changes in family law.

Mississippi Legislature Considering Tweak to Child Support

There are a few Bills kicking around the legislature that would impact child support in Mississippi.

Senate Bill 2338 seeks to broaden the income levels that the child support guidelines are applied.  Currently, Child Support is a statutory amount (see Child Support blog) on income if your income is between $5k -$50k per year, adjusted gross income (AGI).  This bill seeks to increase the income range to $10k-$100k per year, AGI.

As the law is currently, if you make $50k per year, AGI, support for one child would be at least $585.  This figure is 14% of $50k and from there the Court could skew it upwards based on the needs of the child.  So, your obligation would likely be in a broad range from $585 -$1,200 per month, give or take, depending on your income.  This change would make the 14% apply directly to all sums over $50k up to $100k AGI.  So, support, at the least, would be $1,166.00 per month.  This likely would keep higher wage earners support in line with what they are already paying and is not a substantial change.

Senate Bill 2339 proposes a more significant change.  This skews upward all statutory amounts, as follows;

  • 1 Child  from 14% to 17%
  • 2 Children from 20% to 24%
  • 3 Children from 22% to 26%
  • 4 Children from 24% to 28%
  • 5 or more Children from 26% to 30%

So in the same example from above the parent that owed $585 would now owe $710 in support, and if both Bills pass then the amount could be $1,416 per month if the paying parent made $100k AGI.

Mississippi has some of the lowest rates nationally for child support, but also extends the obligation to (21), which is longer than most other states, which end support at 18 or 19.  SB 2339 also proposes to decrease the age for emancipation to 18, or 19, depending upon whether the child has finished high school.  This is a significant change in the law and would only apply to post July 1, 2013, Orders and Judgments.  Neither are law now and it does not appear there is a groundswell of support for either, those these changes would make Mississippi in line with most other states.

Stay tuned to see what the “Hissing Possums” pass.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that keeps abreast of the law and changes related thereto.  He also just used abreast and thereto in a sentence and twice referenced to hissing possums, as Saturday Night Live mockingly referred to the Mississippi Legislature.

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