A brief guide to divorce in South Dakota
Couples experiencing marital difficulties in South Dakota and contemplating separation should be aware of the following things:
South Dakota state divorce laws
Unlike most states, there is no minimum amount of time you must have lived in the state to file for divorce in South Dakota.
Grounds for divorce
Except in cases of no fault divorce, there are six grievances that justify filing for an at-fault divorce:
• Physical or emotional cruelty
• Continuous substance abuse
• Spouse convicted of a felony
• Neglect of marital duties
A judge may also grant a divorce in South Dakota if a spouse has been institutionalized for insanity for five years or longer.
In cases where a couple wishes to separate without getting divorced, they may file for a legal separation. As with all cases of divorce in South Dakota, alimony, child support and similar issues are agreed upon and presented to a judge. These agreements are legally enforceable, and can be withdrawn if the couple reconciles.
Types of divorce
Couples who agree to separate and resolve any disagreements over child custody, property division and related matters will be filing for an uncontested divorce in South Dakota. If a spouse does not agree to the separation or agreement cannot be reached on all the terms of the divorce, a judge will resolve any issues involved in this contested divorce.
No fault divorce
Couples may file for no fault divorce in South Dakota on grounds of irreconcilable differences. There will be a 30-day waiting period before the divorce is finalized after your spouse signs the complaint.
Steps in the divorce process
To file for divorce in South Dakota, a plaintiff must file a complaint with the local family court. The complaint must then be officially served to the other spouse, either by the plaintiff, the sheriff or another adult. The spouse has 30 days to respond. If agreement cannot be reached during the pretrial process, a judge will resolve any areas of dispute.
The court may award temporary or permanent alimony based on the following six factors:
• the marriage’s length
• the financial effects of the divorce upon each spouse
• age of both spouses
• health of both spouses
• financial resources of both spouses
• any at-fault complaints that led to the marriage if applicable
Child support payments will be awarded after consulting the state’s official guidelines and financial tables. Exceptions from these standard amounts can be asked for on grounds including:
• any financial problems that would make the payments unfair
• income tax implications
• previous agreements between the parents
• custody and visitation rights that have been agreed to
Fathers’ and mothers’ rights
Judges are not allowed to take gender into consideration when awarding child custody in South Carolina. Marital misconduct will not be considered unless it has a direct bearing on any children’s well-being. Children who are deemed sufficiently mature will have their wishes taken into consideration.