Tag Archives: age of majority

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.

Emancipation Proclamation (Having minority status removed from a Child)

Emancipation is the process of having a child, a person under 21 in Mississippi, “declared” an adult, removing their status as a minor.

Emancipation shall occur upon the child;

  • Attaining the age of 21 (unless agreed to extend, but not shorten)
  • Marrying
  • Joining the military and serving 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.

Having a child emancipated ends child support obligations and ends the parents responsibilities for that child.  That child is now an adult, as far as the parent’s obligations go.

Emancipation may be sought for a variety of reasons.  The parent and child could have a bad relationship, the child may need to enter into a contract or may desire to make a medical decision contrary to the parent’s wishes.  Emancipation may be brought on by either parent and/or the child, through a next friend.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney in Mississippi and reminds you a minor is a minor in Mississippi until 21, not 18.

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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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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.

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.