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Child Custody and Visitation

Mississippi recognizes two types of custody – physical and legal. Physical custody simply means the child physically lives with the parent. Legal custody means the parent makes the decisions regarding every aspect of the child’s life, including health, education, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing. In awarding custody, the court will consider a variety of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The court may award any combination of custody, such as physical and legal custody to one parent, physical custody to one parent and legal custody to the other parent, joint physical custody to both parents but sole legal custody to one, or joint legal custody to both parents but sole physical custody to one.

Visitation rights arise when one parent is granted sole physical custody of the child. The spouse without physical custody has a right to visitation with the child. Visitation schedules vary widely, but common arrangements may include the noncustodial parent spending every other weekend with the child, alternating holidays between parents, and the child spending a portion of the summer with the noncustodial parent.

Grandparent Visitation:

Mississippi permits a court to grant grandparent visitation in two situations. First, when a parent dies, does not have physical custody, or loses parental rights, that parent’s parents may petition for visitation. Second, grandparents may petition for visitation if the three following factors are present: (1) the grandparent had a viable relationship with the child, which means that either the grandparent provided some financial support for at least 6 months and had frequent visitation, including overnights, for at least one year, (2) the parent (the grandparent’s own child) unreasonably denied the grandparent visitation, and (3) visitation would be in the child’s best interests. 

 
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