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South Dakota Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a divorce in South Dakota, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
The plaintiff in an action for divorce or separate maintenance must, at the time the action is commenced, be a resident of this state, or be stationed in this state while a member of the armed services, and in order that each party be entitled to the entry of a decree or judgment of divorce or separate maintenance, that residence or military presence must be maintained until the decree is entered. The divorce may be filed in the county in which either spouse resides. The defendant has a legal right to have the case transferred to his or her county if desired. There is also a 60 day waiting period that must elapse after the date of filing before the divorce will be granted. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-30, 25-4-30.1, and 25-4-34)
Grounds for Filing:The Complaint for Divorce must declare the appropriate South Dakota grounds upon which the divorce is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The divorce grounds are as follows:
Grounds for divorce. Divorces may be granted for any of the following causes:
(1) Irreconcilable differences.
(1) Adultery; 2) Extreme cruelty; (3) Willful desertion; (4) Willful neglect; (5) Habitual intemperance; (6) Conviction of felony;
Extreme cruelty defined. Extreme cruelty is the infliction of grievous bodily injury or grievous mental suffering upon the other, by one party to the marriage.
Willful desertion defined--Special conditions applicable. Willful desertion is the voluntary separation of one of the married parties from the other with intent to desert.
Adultery defined. Adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex to whom he or she is not married. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-2, 25-4-17, 25-4-18)
Filing Spouse Title:Plaintiff. The Plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Defendant. The Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial divorce papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:State of South Dakota, County of __________, In the Circuit Court, __________ Judicial District. This is the South Dakota court where the divorce will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a divorce according to South Dakota law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Verification, Marital Settlement Agreement, Affidavit of Proof for Stipulated Judgment, Financial Affidavit, and Notice of Final Hearing.
Court Clerk's Title:Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since South Dakota is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
When a divorce is granted and the parties have not agreed otherwise, the courts may make an equitable division of the property belonging to either or both, whether the title to such property is in the name of the husband or the wife. In making such division of the property, the court shall have regard for equity and the circumstances of the parties.
Fault shall not be taken into account with regard to the awarding of property, except as it may be relevant to the acquisition of property during the marriage.
The courts will consider the following factors when making a property award upon divorce; the contribution each spouse had to the acquisition of the marital property; the value of each spouses separate property; the amount of time the spouse have been married; the age and health condition of each spouse; the current and future earning capacity of each spouse; and the value of the property being distribution as well as the income potential of that property. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-44, 25-4-45)
Restoration or Name Change:Whenever a decree of divorce is granted, the trial court may, in its discretion or upon the application of either party by the terms of the decree, restore to the woman her maiden name or the name she legally bore prior to her marriage to the husband in the divorce suit. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-47)
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
Allowance for support when divorce granted. Where a divorce is granted, the court may compel one party to make such suitable allowance to the other party for support during the life of that other party or for a shorter period, as the court may deem just, having regard to the circumstances of the parties represented; and the court may from time to time modify its orders in these respects. The factors the court will consider when establishing a support award are as follows; the length of the marriage; the financial repercussions of each spouse; the financial resources of each spouse; the age of the spouses; the health condition of the spouses; and the marital fault that caused the divorce if any.
The department shall enforce the support obligation due to a spouse or former spouse who is living with his or her child, but only if a support obligation has been established for the spouse and the child support obligation is being enforced. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-42, 25-4-44, 25-4-45)
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:If it appears that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, the court shall continue the proceeding for a period not to exceed thirty days. During the period of the continuance, the court may enter any order for the support and maintenance of the parties, the custody, support, maintenance, and education of the minor children of the marriage, attorney fees, and for the preservation of the property of the parties. At any time after the termination of the thirty-day period, either party may move for the dissolution of the marriage or a legal separation, and the court may enter its judgment decreeing the dissolution or separation.
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a divorce, the South Dakota courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
The court will award sole or joint custody based on the standards of what is in the best interests of the children. The court will consider the following; marital misconduct only if it is relevant to the further well being of the child; the child wishes depending on age and maturity; and the expressed desires of the parents. The court will not discriminate based on the parents gender.
Any agreement by the parties for visitation other than the standard guidelines shall be in writing, signed by both parties and filed with the court. The agreed plan shall be approved by court order and replace the standard guidelines or any plan previously filed. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-3-11, 25-4-25, 25-4-45.1, 25-5-7)
Child Support:South Dakota child support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. The monthly support amount determined by applying the guidelines is divided proportionally according to each parent's income. These two support amounts are then offset to establish which parent will pay the other parent for support of the child. All income is typically verified by examining past W-2's and child support worksheets are available at the courthouse.
Child support is determined by the state guidelines, which is based primarily on the income of each parent. Income is defined as follows: (1) Compensation paid to an employee for personal services, whether salary, wages, commissions, bonus, or otherwise designated; (2) Self-employment income including gain, profit, or loss from a business, farm, or profession; (3) Periodic payments from pensions or retirement programs, including social security or veteran's benefits, disability payments, or insurance contracts; (4) Interest, dividends, rentals, royalties, or other gain derived from investment of capital assets; (5) Gain or loss from the sale, trade, or conversion of capital assets; (6) Unemployment insurance benefits; (7) Worker's compensation benefits; and (8) Benefits in lieu of compensation including military pay allowances.
If the income of the parents is derived from seasonal employment, or received in payments other than regular, recurring payments, such income shall be annualized to determine a monthly average income.
If a child's needs are not being met through the income of the parents, assets shall be considered. If the parents have savings, life insurance or other assets in amounts unrelated to income, these holdings shall be considered. The parents' ability to borrow may be used to determine financial ability.
The court may enter an order allocating the reasonable child care expenses for the child, which are due to employment of either parent, job search of either parent, or the training or education of either parent necessary to obtain a job or enhance earning potential. The court may consider whether the federal child care tax credit for such minor child is available as a benefit to the custodial parent. If the Federal Child Care Tax Credit is available to the custodial parent, it shall be calculated at twenty-five percent of the eligible expense. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-3-11, 25-4-38, 25-4-45, 25-7)
Copyright Notice: The above synopsis of South Dakota divorce laws is original material which is owned and copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This material has been adapted from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. Violation of this notice will result in immediate legal action.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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