Child Support Modification FAQs
In most cases, Mississippi courts issue child support awards in accordance with the Mississippi Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines take into account a variety of relevant factors in order to determine which parent will be required to make child support payments and in what amount. However, a child support award that complied with our state’s guidelines when it was issued may no longer comply later on down the road after the family’s financial needs and circumstances have changed. In order to accommodate this reality, family courts in Mississippi are willing to grant child support modifications under some circumstances. Child support modifications can be confusing, so, in an effort to alleviate some confusion, a few commonly asked questions have been answered below according to Mississippi law.
Q: On what grounds can a child support award be modified in Mississippi?
A: Either parent can petition the court to modify their child support award if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances”. The court will generally find that a qualifying substantial change in circumstances has occurred if (a) either parent’s adjusted gross income has changed by 25 percent or more (either upward or downward), (b) the child’s needs have changed in a manner that justifies a change in the amount of support required from the noncustodial parent, or (c) recalculating the child support award would result in a change in support of at least 15 percent, or $50 per month, whichever is greater.
Q: How can a parent go about petitioning the court to modify a child support award?
A: While the procedure for petitioning the court to modify a child support award varies a bit between counties in Mississippi, the basic process is always the same. First, the parent who wishes to modify the child support award must file a petition with the court and then serve the other parent with a copy. Next, the court will require both spouses to disclose specific financial information to each other, and perhaps attend mediation, before going in front of a judge or a hearing officer who will hear the case and determine whether or not to grant the requested modification.
Q: If both parents mutually agree to modify their child support award do they still have to go to court?
A: Generally speaking, yes. Even if both parents voluntarily agree to modify their child support award they generally must still go before a judge in order to get their child support order changed.
Q: What happens if a Mississippi court modifies a child support award under which the non-custodial parent owes back child support?
A: Any back child support that a non-custodial parent owes is still considered to be outstanding even after a modification is granted. In other words, overdue child support can not be erased by a modification because child support modifications in Mississippi are only retroactive back to the date on which the petition for modification was filed.
Q: Is it possible to request a temporary child support modification?
A: Yes, under some circumstances it is possible to obtain a temporary child support modification. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances that is expected to be short-lived (for example, if the child or a parent suffers a temporary medical emergency) then the court will often be inclined to grant a temporary modification given the circumstances.
Let Us Help You with Your Family Law Case
If you are interested in modifying a child support award in Mississippi, contact Derek L. Hall, PLLC today. Our experienced family law attorneys handle a wide variety of legal matters including adoptions, divorces, paternity hearings, child support modifications, and child custody arrangements. If you would like to discuss a family law issue during a free initial consultation call our Jackson office today at (601) 202-2222.