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South Dakota Child Custody Laws

State law governs child custody decisions. All states have their own laws and their own legal systems, so child custody laws do vary. However, there are more similarities than differences. Courts can award joint or sole custody; will often consider the wishes of the child; and will ensure that custody, spousal, and child support following a divorce account for the needs of the children.

Here is a brief summary of child custody laws in South Dakota.

South Dakota Child Custody Laws

During child custody proceedings, courts will direct the custody, care, and education of a child as necessary and will reach permanent decisions upon the separation of the parents. The “best interests of the child" are the primary concern. South Dakota law encourages joint custody between parents. Courts determining custody arrangements are also able to modify or vacate their decisions at any time, allowing for continued supervision of a child and their parents.

There can be some specific circumstances courts will consider when making custody determinations. Criminal convictions for domestic violence and assault as well as protective orders and arrest records can influence custody awards. There's also a provision preventing a parent who killed another parent from receiving custody. Generally speaking, courts will consider the entire picture before making a child custody decision.

There are some other notable provisions relating to custody as well. Grandparents can have a right to visit grandchildren so long as there's no interference in a parent-child relationship and it's in the child's best interests. South Dakota has also adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, an interstate accord requiring states to recognize custody decisions made in other states.

Code Sections

§ 25-4-45 et seq. of South Dakota Codified Laws

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, § 25-5-7.1

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 25-4-52

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Note: State laws may change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Child Custody Laws

Child custody laws can be complex and the custody process is often lengthy. You can find additional resources on child custody law and more information on state child custody laws on these pages.

Get Legal Help with Child Custody Today

If you and your child's other parent are separating, you might not agree on who gets custody of your child or what the custody arrangement looks like. There are many other factors to consider in these determinations, but the court's primary concern is the best interests of the child. One of the best ways to get a handle on the process is to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney.

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