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Understanding child custody basics in Mississippi

Child custody concerns can be one of the most significant concerns that come up during the divorce process. Child custody concerns are guided by what is in the best interests of the child. The court will consider several factors when determining child custody including the sex of the child, the health of the child, who the child's primary caregiver was prior to the divorce, the parenting skills of the parents, the willingness of the parents to care for the child, the emotional ties between the child and parents and the moral fitness of each of the parents.

Additional factors must all be balanced in each child custody situation. Additional factors include the age of the child; if the employment of the parents takes them away from the home for long periods; the financial positions of the parents and differences between the two; any immoral conduct of the parents; religion, personal values; and lifestyle. The court strives to look at the whole picture to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The wishes of children over 12 may also be considered when evaluating child custody.

Child custody can include legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who make decisions for the child related to health, education and overall welfare. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. In circumstances when one parent has physical custody of the child the other parent can be granted visitation with the child.

Child custody determinations can be complicated but it is important for parents to always remain focused on what is in the best interests of the child. The family law process provides resources to help guide parents through what can be an understandably emotional and challenging divorce-related issue such as child custody.

Source: The Mississippi Bar, "Child Custody: Considering the Best Interest of the Child," Accessed March 29, 2017

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