The parents of a child may separate for various reasons, leaving the cost of raising the child for only one parent to bear. However, children benefit the most when both parents contribute to their care. Child support laws and services have been established to ensure that both parents of a child take some responsibility in the upbringing of the child, rather than leaving it to just one of them.
Child Support Process
The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) is responsible for administering child support services in the state. Parents who receive public assistance are automatically enrolled for child support. However, custodial parents who seek child support but are not receiving public assistance are required to complete and submit an application form which can be found at https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/675-Application-Fillable.pdf. In this form, the parents will have to fill in details of the child as well as information on the noncustodial parent, including name, date of birth, ethnicity, address, employer details, telephone number, etc. The form also has fields to indicate the relationship that exists between both parents. When submitting the application, a $25 fee is charged.
Parents who do not know the location of their noncustodial counterparts can get location services from the child support program. The program uses the details provided by the parent requesting support to track down the other parent. This process is made easier when many details concerning the noncustodial parent are supplied. Location services are very important because a child support case cannot move forward until the other parent is served a notice.
When the noncustodial parent has been located and served a notice, there may be a need to establish the legal paternity of the child. If both parents were married when the child was born, the husband is taken as the legal father of the child. However, unmarried parents can establish paternity by filling A Simple Acknowledgment of Paternity (ASAP). This is a voluntary form signed by the father and mother of the child acknowledging that they are the legal parents of the child. Once the form is filled, there will be no further action required to establish paternity. In cases where the unmarried couple does not fill an ASAP, a court will have to issue an order to establish paternity. This is done through DNA testing with swabs collected from the parents and child. The tests results are then used to establish the paternity of the child. For more details on establishing paternity, visit https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Paternity-Establishment-Brochure.pdf.
After paternity has been established, the child support program can go about establishing a child support order.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Parents receiving child support in Mississippi can choose to receive the funds in either of two ways. The first option is through the Way2Go card. This is a debit card to which the funds are applied after they have been received from the noncustodial parent. The card can then be used to purchase items or make cash withdrawals at ATMs. There are no fees for using the card, however, some banks may apply a surcharge fee for using their ATMs for withdrawals. Card users can also check their balance online at https://www.goprogram.com/.
The other option available is direct deposit. Parents can fill a Direct Deposit Authorization form to set up direct deposit of their child support funds to their accounts. This will allow the money to be electronically transferred to their savings or checking account once available. The Direct Deposit Authorization form can be accessed at https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Direct-Deposit-Agreement-Form-687-11-21-19-edits.pdf.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
In establishing Child support orders in Mississippi, there are guidelines taken into account. The gross income of the noncustodial parent is an essential factor. This includes wages, commissions. dividends, alimony, etc. The court then makes certain deductions from the gross income of the noncustodial parent to arrive at an adjusted gross income figure. It is from this amount that the child support to be paid monthly is determined. The parent will be required to pay 14% of their adjusted gross income monthly as child support for one child. For two children, it is 20% of the gross income, with subsequent increases of 2% per child, up to five children. The judge deciding on the child support amount may consider seasonal variations in income, the independent income of the child, extraordinary medical, educational, or dental expenses, etc. For more information on child support amounts and calculations, visit https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Child-Support-Guidelines-Revised.pdf.
Enforcement of Child Support
Sometimes, the noncustodial parent who has been ordered to pay child support may default on the payments. This may lead to enforcement action being taken. Child support orders are enforced in several ways like,
- Income withholding, where the money is directly deducted from the wages of the noncustodial parent.
- Interception of tax refunds
- Interception of unemployment benefits
- Reporting to credit bureaus
- Placing liens on various assets of the parent
- Revocation or denial of passport
- Seizure or restriction of financial accounts
- Suspension of Licenses
- Contempt action in court, which may lead to jail time.
Additional information on the enforcement of child support orders in Mississippi can be found at https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/child-support/#56ac1c927bcda5d04.