South Dakota Child Custody

South Dakota lawmakers have passed legislation providing a set of guidelines when determining split custody between divorced parents. The bill was unanimously supported in the Senate in a vote last month, and the House of Representatives voted 68-2 in support of the bill early in March.

The legislation, drafted by shared parenting advocates and the South Dakota Bar Association, is based on custody laws found in Iowa. It gives children of divorce opportunities to spend substantial time with both parents.

“I am glad South Dakota courts will be recognizing shared parenting and considering factors to that end,” said Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, sponsor of the measure. Lederman said he was proud of the compromises made by the bar association and shared parenting advocates. “I’m happy the Legislature has spoken,” said Casey Wilson, a shared parenting advocate and father of three. “They believe there are necessary changes to our family court system as well.”

Wilson has been involved in South Dakota’s shared parenting movement since 2009. He said additional language could be added to the shared custody law in the future but that will be determined after the legislation is officially enacted.

The bill now awaits signature from the governor. A spokesperson for Gov. Daugaard said the administration did not oppose the bill as it made its way through both legislative chambers.

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