How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Mississippi

Learn how to calculate child support in Mississippi, when the amount of support may be different than the standard calculation, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Legal Editor

Unlike many states, Mississippi doesn't provide an official child support calculator. However, it's easy to figure out how much support you'll pay or receive in Mississippi, because the state's child support guidelines use a simple schedule based on parental income and the number of children. Here's how it works, along with exceptions to the basic calculation.

Calculating Child Support With Mississippi's Schedule

Typically, noncustodial parents (those who have physical custody of their children less than half the time) pay child support to the custodial parents. In Mississippi, child support is calculated based on the noncustodial parent's adjusted gross income (AGI). So you'll need to start with that parent's annual gross income from all sources, including:

  • wages
  • self-employment income
  • workers' compensation or disability benefits
  • unemployment benefits
  • interest, dividends, and other investments
  • Social Security and other retirement benefits, and
  • alimony.

Then subtract the following to arrive at AGI:

  • federal, state, and local taxes, including Social Security contributions
  • mandatory retirement and disability contributions, and
  • support for the parent's other children (not those covered by this support order).

Divide the annual adjusted amount by 12, then multiply the monthly AGI by the appropriate percentage, depending on the number of children being supported:

  • 14% for one child
  • 20% for two children
  • 22% for three children
  • 24% for four children, or
  • 26% for five or more children.

The result of that multiplication will be the amount of monthly child support under the guidelines. (Miss. Code § 43-19-101 (2024).)

For example, if the parents have two children and the noncustodial parent has monthly AGI of $3,000, you would multiply 3,000 by 20% (or .2), for a child support obligation of $600.

Are Online Mississippi Child Support Calculators Accurate?

You can find websites with so-called child support calculators for Mississippi, but there's no guarantee that these calculators are accurate and up-to-date. Mississippi updates its child support guidelines periodically, and you usually can't tell whether any of these other websites have kept up with the latest changes.

Because Mississippi's guidelines are so simple, there's really no reason to use any of these nonofficial child support calculators. You can always check to make sure that all of the percentages and other information we discuss in this article are still current by searching for the appropriate code sections on the Mississippi Law site.

When Child Support May Be Different Than the Guideline Calculation

Mississippi presumes that the amount calculated under the guidelines is appropriate, but you may argue that a different amount would be better in your situation. Whether you and the child's other parent have agreed on a support amount that departs from the guideline or a judge decides for you, the judge will have to find that using the amount calculated under the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. When making that decision, the judge will consider the specific circumstances in your case, including:

  • extraordinary medical, psychological, dental, or educational expenses
  • the child's age, taking into account older children's greater needs
  • details of the parenting arrangement, such as whether the custodial parent's expenses are reduced because the noncustodial parent has the children for a substantial amount of time
  • the custodial parent's expenses for child care that's required to find or keep a job, or because of a disability
  • other special needs that the parents have historically met within their family budget
  • whether the custodial parent is also receiving spousal support (alimony)
  • any seasonal variations in a parent's income, and
  • the total assets available to both parents and the child.

(Miss. Code § 43-19-103 (2024).)

Two other circumstances might affect whether the standard calculation will apply in your case:

  • When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the judge may impute income to that parent and then calculate child support based on that potential income.
  • When a noncustodial parent has annual AGI of less than $10,000 or over $100,000, the judge must determine whether the standard guidelines calculation would be reasonable under the circumstances (including a low-income parent's basic subsistence needs).

(Miss. Code § 43-19-101(4), (5) (2024).)

How to Apply for Child Support in Mississippi

Typically, you'll apply for child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in Mississippi.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may get help with establishing a child support order by applying for services with the Mississippi Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). If needed, the agency may also help with establishing the child's legal paternity and locating absent parents.

How to Collect Child Support in Mississippi

Many parents pay child support through income withholding. That way, the support payments are taken out of their paychecks and forwarded to the custodial parent. Without income withholding, there are several other methods for making support payments in Mississippi.

If you're having trouble collecting support payments, the Mississippi DCSE can help enforce court-ordered child support. Depending on how much the other parent owes, the agency has several enforcement methods, including:

  • income withholding (if it's not already in place)
  • reporting the debt to credit bureaus
  • intercepting income tax refunds, workers' compensation, or unemployment benefits
  • seizing money from bank accounts, and
  • suspending the parent's driver's license or other state-issued licenses.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Every three years, either parent may request a review of their current support order from the state's DCSE. If it's been less than three years since the order was issued or last reviewed, the agency will conduct a review only if you can demonstrate that there's been a substantial change in circumstances, such as:

  • a significant change in the noncustodial parent's income
  • the child's increased needs, or
  • a parent's new special medical needs.

If the review shows that an adjustment is warranted, the DCSE will file a modification motion with the court. (Miss. Code § 43-19-34 (2024).)

You also have the option of filing a modification request directly with the court. But without DCSS assistance, you should consider speaking with a family lawyer.

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