Overview of Divorce in South Dakota

South Dakota divorce laws are different in some ways than the divorce laws in other states. Here are some of the basics that people need to know.

Residency Requirements

While most states require that either the plaintiff or defendant be a state resident for at least six months or even up to a year or more before filing for divorce in that state, that isn't the case in South Dakota. For South Dakota, the requirement merely states that a person must be a resident at the time of filing and must remain a resident until the divorce is finalized. Additionally, there is at least a 60-day waiting period from when the divorce is filed and the court hearing for the divorce.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

In South Dakota, there are several grounds for which a court may grant a divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion
  • Willful neglect
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Irreconcilable differences

Child Custody Factors

Like other states, South Dakota makes every effort to do what is best for the children when it comes to child custody. When determining a custody award, the courts consider these issues:

  • The child's wishes about custody (depending upon the age and maturity level of the child).
  • The desires of each spouse in regards to custodial arrangements.
  • Marital misconduct—only, though, if it is relevant to the well-being of the child.

Child Support Factors

Either spouse may be ordered to provide some type of child support. There are even cases in which both spouses provide some type of support—for example, one parent may provide health insurance for the child through her employers while the other provides monetary support for the other parent.

South Dakota courts consider several issues when deciding upon child support. Here are some of the factors that they take into consideration:

  • The financial conditions of each parent.
  • Income tax consequences of giving or receiving child support.
  • Special needs of the child that may require additional money.
  • Income from other people (such as a grandparent, perhaps).
  • Childcare expenses that are necessary in order for a parent to be gainfully employed.

South Dakota does use the Income Shares Model as a base for deciding upon child support amounts. This model provides calculations using the parents' incomes and expenses. Using that, along with considering the factors above, helps the South Dakota courts to come up with the best child support solutions in each case.

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