South Dakota Child Custody & South Dakota Child Support
South Dakota courts, like family courts in all states, encourage parents to cooperate in working out an agreement on the details of raising their children after a divorce because, in the long run, such agreements usually reflect the best interests of the children. If the parents cannot come to such an agreement, then the court will step in to decide issues of child custody, child support, and visitation rights, and will do so with the best interests of the children in mind. The following are the laws governing South Dakota child custody and support.
South Dakota Child Custody:
South Dakota courts determine all custody issues in terms of the best interests of the children. The court will consider all relevant facts and give the father and mother the same consideration regardless of the child’s sex or age. Sole custody and joint custody are both possibilities, as is custody by a third-party guardian – again, the deciding factor is the child’s best interest. As part of this determination, the court will consider:
- The child’s wishes (if s/he is of sufficient age and capacity to form an intelligent preference),
- The results of any investigation (upon showing of good cause) into the care and welfare of the parties’ minor children,
- The testimony of any person or expert produced by any party or the court itself who can testify as to what is best for the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual well-being of the child, and
- The occurrence of any family violence. The perpetrator of the violence faces a rebuttable presumption that their sole or even joint custody of the child would be detrimental. The “rebuttable presumption” means that the court’s operating presumption is that the perpetrator should not have custody at all (whereas, if there were no such presumption, the parties would stand equally before the court), and it is up to the perpetrator to meet the burden of proof necessary to overcome this presumption.
South Dakota Child Support:
Child support in South Dakota is determined in accordance with the Income Shares Model for child support, where each parent’s income is considered in relative proportion. The support amounts calculated from each parent then help decide which parent must pay the other in order to maintain the correct proportion and provide for the needs of the child.
These guidelines are not always followed, but a decision to follow a different standard will require supportive evidence showing 1) all the factors that affect the parties’ financial obligations differently, and 2) how applying a standard other than the Income Shares Model will more effectively preserve the best interests of the child.
The factors that can be considered here are numerous, including, but not limited to:
- Monetary support provided for other family members
- Debts arising during the marriage for the child’s benefit
- Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed for the child’s benefit
- Court-ordered payments for health care and education for the child’s benefit
- Children’s independent financial resources, if any
- Education, training, and/or career opportunities of the parties and/or ability to pursue those things
- A written agreement between the parties including the amount of child support, if one exists.
A lawyer can help you sort through your rights and responsibilities when it comes to raising children after a divorce, and can also serve as your advocate and/or counsel when negotiating a parenting agreement. You can find a lawyer at:
South Dakota Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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