Securing financial, medical, and emotional support for children and families.
Helping families support their children.
What We Do
The Division of Child Support Enforcement serves children and families that need help with financial, medical and emotional support.
Every child needs financial and emotional support from both parents. Even when parents do not live together, it is important they work together to support their children.
Services provided by the child support program include establishing paternity, locating non-custodial parents, establishing child support orders through the courts, enforcing child support orders and collecting child support, distributing child support funds to families, and helping families have their child support orders modified by the courts.
Employers serve as key partners in ensuring financial stability for many children and families across Mississippi, and the Division pursues innovative ways to engage employers in the child support program.
Child Support Services
Learn more about child support services provided through MDHS below.
Paternity means having a legal father, and there are many reasons to establish paternity for your child.
For example, it is important for a child to know who he/she is and to feel the sense of belonging that knowing both parents brings.
A child also needs to know if he/she may have inherited any diseases or birth defects.
Establishing paternity can also ensure that the child has rights to possible benefits from both parents such as social security, medical and life insurance, as well as veteran’s benefits.
Finally, a child needs food, clothing, and a home, which can be better provided when both parents are involved.
There are several ways that biological fathers become legal fathers:
- If a married couple has children, the husband is presumed to be the legal father. Paternity is established by the birth of a child to a married couple.
- A Simple Acknowledgment of Paternity (ASAP)
- This is a voluntary and legally binding form completed by parents who are not married. It is often completed at the hospital when the child is born. It is signed by both the mother and the father and gets filed with the birth certificate.
- If both parents complete the ASAP, no further action is needed to establish paternity.
- The hospital or birthing facility will have this form available to parents, and there is no fee involved when the acknowledgment of paternity is filed along with the birth certificate.
- A Simple Acknowledgment of Paternity Brochure
- If an unmarried couple does not complete A Simple Acknowledgement of Paternity (ASAP), a court will have to establish paternity.
- If the alleged father is unwilling to sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form, the mother can request assistance from the Division of Child Support Enforcement in establishing paternity and obtaining child support through the court system.
- The parent applying for assistance will pay a $25 application fee for child support services unless she is receiving any state supported benefit such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, (TANF) and/or Medicaid, in which case there is no charge for this service.
- The MDHS Child Support program does not represent either parent, but child support program staff can assist either parent in completing the necessary steps, including DNA tests if there is a question about the identity of the child’s father.
- A hearing will be requested and both parties (usually the parents) will have the opportunity to attend. At the hearing, a judge will review all the evidence to determine the whether the alleged father is the legal father.
Location services are provided as part of each full service child support case.
You can also complete an application for “locate only services” free of charge. If the agency is able to locate the parent, then you can choose to pay the $25 service fee and pursue a child support order.
Having a social security number (SSN) for the parent ordered to pay child support is very important in location services.
- If the SSN is known, the agency is required to work to locate the parent for two (2) years or until the case is closed.
- If the SSN is not known, the agency is required to work to locate the parent for six (6) months or until the case is closed.
For a child support arrangement to be enforceable by MDHS, there must be a court-approved child support order or agreement which requires the payment of support. The agency cannot enforce informal child support agreements.
There are two ways that an enforceable child support order or agreement can be created:
Through a Court Hearing
To establish a child support order, a legal document called a “complaint for support” along with a summons for a hearing is delivered to the parent alleged to be responsible for providing support.
During the hearing, the court will hear evidence from each party (usually each of the parents) and determine the amount of child support to be paid, if any. The amount of child support is based on several factors, including the parent’s ability to pay based on their individual income and the legal guidelines for child support.
Once the court’s order is established, MDHS will enforce the order and begin collecting child support.
Through a Stipulated Agreement
A stipulated agreement is a notarized document signed by the parent responsible for support in which he or she agrees to pay a certain child support amount.
When this document is approved by the court, it can be enforced by MDHS just like an order established through a court hearing.
The Division of Child Support Enforcement uses several methods to collect and enforce child support orders:
The employer of the parent paying child support may withhold the child support payment amount from any income owed to the employee and send the payment directly to MDHS to be paid to the parent receiving child support.
Income includes, but is not limited to wages, salary, commission, compensation as an independent contractor, workers’ compensation, annuity benefits, retirement benefits, and any payments made by any person or private entity, the federal, state, or local government.
A parent who owes child support may have support withheld from their unemployment benefits.
This means that part of their unemployment benefit amount is paid to the child support office instead of being part of their benefit check. The amount that comes out of their check – minus fees – is then paid out to the parent receiving child support.
Tax Offset Intercept
A parent who owes back child support may be subject to interception of any refund due from federal or state taxes.
This means that instead of receiving their full tax refund amount, some or all of the refund will be sent to the child support office and paid out to the parent receiving child support.
For more information, see the Tax Offset Guide.
A parent who owes back child support may be taken to court for contempt which could result in the court sending the parent to jail if a child support payment is not made.
A contempt action will not be initiated until other enforcement remedies have been attempted. The parent can be confined to jail until he or she pays a set amount towards the support that is determined by the court.
Credit Bureau Reporting
A parent who owes back child support will be reported to the Credit Bureau.
Failure to pay child support on time can decrease someone’s credit score and make it harder for them to get a good loan for a house or car in the future.
Before a parent is reported, he or she must have a child support order that has remained unpaid for at least 60 days after the payment is due. The parent must be given advanced notice that he or she is going to be reported to the credit bureau.
Workers Compensation Benefits and Personal Injury Claims
If the parent who owes back child support makes a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim in court, MDHS can file a request to have the overdue child support paid directly to MDHS from any money that would otherwise be paid to the parent in their workers’ compensation or personal injury claims.
Accounts Frozen and Seized
A parent who owes back child support may have their account(s) frozen and seized from financial institutions such as banks and credit unions.
A parent who owes back child support may have any state-issued license suspended if one of the following conditions exists:
- The parent has failed to comply with a subpoena or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings;
- The parent is one or more months behind in making payments in full for current support and support arrearage; or
- The parent fails to make a child support payment, and it remains unpaid for at least 30 days after agreeing to a payment plan.
Examples of the state-issued licenses that can be suspended include: driver’s licenses, hunting licenses, and professional licenses.
A parent who owes back child support of $2,500 or more will have their passport revoked or passport application denied.
States are required to distribute most child support payments within two days of receiving the funds. When child support payments are collected, certain amounts owed to MDHS or required to be withheld by federal law may be deducted before the money is paid to the parent receiving child support.
Parents can receive child support through direct deposit into a bank account or through a Way2Go Debit MasterCard. Each time child support payments are collected, these funds are electronically deposited to the bank account or debit card.
Debit cardholders cannot add any additional funds to the debit card. Fees may apply to the Debit Mastercard depending on how the card is used.
For more information about these payment options and debit card fees visit the Way2Go Card page.
Having an issue receiving your child support payments?
- Call the Way2Go Card Services Center at: 1-855-709-1079
- Or call Child Support at: 877-882-4916
The child support amount is part of a court order, so changes to the amount must be done by a court order.
The support amount is based on the income of the parent paying support and other factors. The Mississippi Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate the support amount.
Parents have the right to request a review of the child support amount every three (3) years from the date the order was entered or modified by the court.
However, either parent may request a review of their case at any time should circumstances warrant.
To request a review of your child support amount, you can complete and submit the appropriate form:
The reviews conducted on the three-year review cycle do not require proof of a substantial change of circumstances before a court may modify the child support order.
Reviews conducted inside the three-year review cycle require proof of a substantial change in circumstances.
The following are some of the factors that can be used to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstance:
- Substantial increase or decrease in the income of the parent responsible for paying child support;
- Increased needs caused by advanced age and maturity of the children;
- Increase in expenses;
- The health and special needs of the child;
- The health and special medical needs of the parents.
When the review is complete, each parent will receive notice of the results and have an opportunity to agree or disagree with the results. A court must approve the final order.
Reports, Plans, & Documents
Below is a list of parent forms that you may find helpful. Each form can be submitted to the child support office by uploading online, mailing, or personally bringing the form to a child support office.
- If you are supposed to receive child support, but the other parent has not paid for months, you can complete and submit the Custodial Parent Contempt Questionnaire form to request that a contempt action be filed against the parent responsible for paying child support.
- The child support office will review the case and consider filing a contempt action.
- Submitting a questionnaire does not guarantee that a contempt action will be filed. In a contempt proceeding, the Court hears the facts and makes a ruling.
- If you are a parent receiving child support, and you would like your case to be reviewed for an increase or decrease in child support because of a change in circumstances, you can submit this form to request a review of your case.
- A change in your child support amount is not guaranteed, but it can be considered.
- If you are a parent receiving child support, you can complete and submit the Child Support Case Closure Request Form to request case closure under certain circumstances. More information regarding case closure is provided here.
- You can also call the Child Support Call Center at 877-882-4916 if you have questions or concerns about case closure.
- If the child support staff needs to let another agency or organization know about the status of your child support case, you may be asked to complete part of a Verification of Services form.
- If your license has been suspended and you would like to request a reduction in the lump sum payment amount needed to reinstate your license, you can use this form to submit information about your finances and circumstances.
- This information will be reviewed to determine if the lump sum payment amount can be negotiated.
- If you are a parent responsible for paying child support, and you would like your case to be reviewed for an increase or decrease in child support because of a change in circumstances, you can submit this form to request a review of your case.
- A change in your child support amount is not guaranteed, but it can be considered.
- If you are a parent responsible for paying child support and you are behind on your child support payments, you can use this form to provide information to the child support office about your circumstances and request a lower child support amount.
- A change is your child support amount is not guaranteed, but it can be considered. If the agency moves forward with a contempt proceeding for nonpayment, the Court will hear the facts and make a ruling.
- Use this form when the spouse of a person owing child support agrees to voluntarily waive his or her right to claim a portion of the jointly-filed federal income tax refund.
- By completing this form and sending it to MDHS, the amount of the tax offset can be applied to the child support arrearage (back child support) without the otherwise required six-month delay.
Child Support Call Center
Need help with your child support case? Call the Child Support Call Center at 877-882-4916.
If you need help with your Way2Go Debit Card, call their Cardholder Services line at 855-709-1079.