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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, and marital property divisions following a divorce account for the needs of children. Here’s a brief summary of child custody laws in South Dakota.

South Dakota Child Custody Laws

During divorce proceedings, courts will direct the custody, care, and education of a child as necessary and will reach permanent decisions as once a divorce is finalized. The “best interests of the child” are the primary concern. South Dakota law encourages joint custody between parents, considers the preference of children old enough to make their own decision, and its statutes don’t favor the mother or the father (as used to be the case).  Courts determining custody arrangements are also able to modify or vacate their decisions at any time, allowing for continued supervision of a child and his or her parents.

There can be some specific circumstances courts will consider when making custody determinations. While the alleged fault of one spouse for the divorce isn’t supposed to matter, there’s an exception for anything relevant to a parent’s fitness to have custody rights. 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 Act, an interstate accord requiring states to recognize custody decisions made in other states.

Code Sections 25-4-45, et seq. 25-4A-1, et seq.
Year Uniform Child Custory Act Adopted 1978
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, 25-5-7
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, 25-4-52
Child’s Own Wishes Considered? Yes

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. If you have more specific questions about child custody or are contemplating a divorce, consider speaking with a local child custody lawyer.

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