Wallace v. Wallace (Mississippi 2022)
Parents can’t unilaterally modify child support. The parents divorced in 2011, and the final divorce decree set out their visitation schedule and ordered the father to pay support. With time, the children alternated weeks with each parent. The father stopped paying support in 2017. In 2019, the mother filed to modify custody, support, for a finding of contempt for the father’s failure to pay support, and sought relief for other issues. In its final order, the chancery court awarded the mother back support from July 2017 – April 2019 but didn’t find the father in contempt. The father appealed. The appellate court upheld the child support terms of the order. The father admitted he didn’t pay support during this time, arguing he and the mother agreed to modify their custody arrangement. However, their marital dissolution agreement clearly stated any change to child support must have court approval. The appellate court found in light of the applicable law and circumstances, the chancellor’s decision to award past-due support but not hold the father in contempt was not error.