Gulfport Child Custody Lawyers

Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have. It’s even more difficult when you have to figure out custody disputes, navigate a custody schedule, or even go through the pain and anxiety of a drawn-out custody battle.

While child custody can be a stressful topic to discuss, you don’t have to go through it alone. With the help of a family law attorney in Mississippi, you can fight for your parenting time and defend your child’s best interests. Get the assistance you need by calling the Gulfport child custody attorneys at Holcomb & Russell—call us at 228-206-5843 to get started.

Different Types of Custody in Mississippi

As you start exploring your options and thinking about where you may have room to compromise, make sure you are familiar with the different custody types in Mississippi. The state recognizes both legal and physical custody. Legal custody determines who is active in a child’s important life decisions, such as where they go to school, which religion (if any) they follow, and what type of medical care they receive. Physical custody determines whom the child lives with most of the time.

One type of custody doesn’t necessarily determine the other. That is, a parent receiving primary physical custody does not necessarily get sole legal custody. Under Mississippi law, parents can split both types of custody, split one type of custody and not the other, or give sole physical and legal custody to one parent.

What Does the Court Prefer?

While it’s possible for one parent to get sole physical and legal custody, that isn’t where the court starts. People often believe that the court automatically favors one parent over the other, but that simply isn’t true. The court takes the stance that a child is generally best served when they have meaningful time with both parents and have both parents actively involved in their lives. The goal is to protect the child’s relationship with both parents without compromising their safety and stability.

The Best Interests of the Child

While both parents may have their own specific goals for a custody dispute or disagree on what is best for their child, the court has its own methods for deciding custody matters. As is the case across the country, the best interests of the child in question are the top priority. The court looks at 12 important factors when deciding what is in the child’s best interests:

        The child’s age, sex, and health

        Who provided the child’s care prior to the parents separating

        Which parent has stronger parenting skills

        Which parent is more capable of being the primary parent

        Each parent’s physical health, mental health, and age

        Each parent’s work obligations

        The child’s relationship with each parent

        The parents’ moral fitness

        How the child has fared at home, in school, and in the community

        The child’s preference once they reach the age of 12

        Each parent’s home environment and ability to provide a stable environment

        Any other relevant factors

Such a broad list of important factors gives the court significant discretion when it comes to awarding custody to one or both parents.

Navigating a Custody Dispute

What does this mean for you as you figure out a custody dispute? It means that you need to keep your attention focused on what best serves your child. It’s easy to get distracted or mix up what you want with what your child wants. At times, this means taking a step back, looking at the situation from an objective point of view, and potentially adjusting what you are requesting.

Ideally, you and your ex-partner will be able to negotiate a custody agreement without the court having to step in. While the court will step in and make a determination if necessary, this is not in the best interests of either parent. It completely strips them of their agency and their role in the decision-making process. Before a case goes to court, we’ll go through multiple rounds of negotiations to try to develop a custody agreement that suits both parents and their child.

As you work through custody disputes, remember to consider atypical scheduling times. A base schedule works well during the school year, but you must also plan for winter break, spring break, and summer holidays. You’ll also need to decide who gets each holiday and what will happen if the child has an extracurricular event that interferes with a parent’s time. By addressing all of these topics from the very start, you’ll avoid disputes and misunderstandings down the road.

Modifying a Custody Order

A child custody order does not have to be set in stone. A number of situations may call for a custody modification, including a significant change in work obligations, a change in the child’s preferences, one parent moving, or one parent becoming too ill to provide child care. With an attorney, you can petition the court for a modification that addresses your current situation.

How We Can Help

At Holcomb & Russell, we understand that custody disputes are many parents’ greatest fear. You’re likely scared of losing time with your child or suffering damage to your relationship. Take a deep breath and know that we are committed to fighting for you and protecting your right to parent.

With our guidance every step of the way, you’ll feel confident about your child custody case. We’ll look at the wide range of factors involved in a custody decision, compare what you are asking for and what your ex is asking for, and tailor our negotiating strategy accordingly. By involving you throughout the process, you can have a say in one of the most important decisions in your life.

Our assistance doesn’t end when your initial custody order is established. We are always here to help with issues enforcing the order or modifications.

Contact Holcomb & Russell Now

Take the first step in establishing your custody order now. We’re ready to sit down, look at your options, and help you come up with a plan that suits your needs. Schedule a meeting now by calling us at 228-206-5843 or sending us a quick message online.