The Swier Law Firm Family Law FAQs
Have questions? We have answers! Our South Dakota attorneys answer the questions they hear most often from clients just like you.
- Page 1
What are 3 ways I can create a better South Dakota parenting plan?
When couples are faced with dividing their children’s time, one of the first questions asked is, “What type of visitation or parenting plan do you recommend for my situation?”
This is similar to asking someone how they like their steak – the answers can be as varied as your imagination. With more cases being resolved through mediation, it is now more common to see a visitation schedule truly focused on the needs, schedules, and traditions of each individual family.
Here are 3 tips to consider when designing a workable parenting plan:
Keep in mind both parents’ work schedules. If one parent works late nights or most weekends, using a schedule where visitation periods fall during these times guarantees the child will spend a lot of time with babysitters instead of the parent. Look at periods of time when both the child and the parent are not working or attending school to build in extended visitation periods which maximize the parent-child bonding opportunities.
School Calendar(s) and Children’s After-School Activities
Depending on the child's school, the school calendar and after-school activities may dictate the schedule that will work best. The older a child gets and the more involved he or she becomes in school-based activities or sports, the more important it will be to allow spaces in the schedules for these activities - and to allow both parents to be involved.
Family Holiday Traditions
Just because the calendar designates a specific “holiday” doesn't mean that you must include it in your parenting schedule. For instance, if a particular holiday means more to one parent, adjust the schedule to allow that parent to enjoy the whole holiday with the child and find another period of time to give the other parent an extended period to even things out. Both the child and parents win in these situations.
In South Dakota, should my spouse and I share a divorce attorney?
No. You definitely need to get your own divorce attorney. It is improper for an attorney to represent both the husband and wife in a South Dakota divorce.
What does it mean to mediate a South Dakota divorce?
Mediation sessions take place outside of court and under the supervision of a neutral mediator. The mediator can direct the negotiation process and ensure that all topics are covered in the settlement. A couple is able to create and customize a divorce settlement that meets their unique needs. This includes child custody, parenting schedules, alimony, child support, property division, and any other relevant issues.
What are the advantages of mediation in a South Dakota divorce?
The advantages of mediating a South Dakota divorce include:
- It's Quicker. A divorce may be completed faster through mediation.
- It's Less Expensive. Mediation usually costs less than an adversarial hearing in court.
- It Allows For A Better Relationship. Couples who go through mediation are more likely to leave the marriage with a more positive relationship because it avoids the conflicts that accompany going to court.
- It's Less Stressful. Mediation is a non-binding and non-adversarial proceeding.
In South Dakota, is a stepparent required to support his spouse's children?
Yes. A stepparent must maintain his spouse’s children born prior to their marriage and is responsible as a parent for their support and education. However, this responsibility does not release the natural or adoptive parents of the children from their support obligations.
Can South Dakota courts award alimony in a divorce?
Yes. In South Dakota, alimony is also known as spousal support. “General” alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to another. The legal basis of alimony is that divorce should not cause a dependent spouse to become impoverished or suffer a drastic reduction in his lifestyle. In other words, general alimony is intended to help the lower income spouse in providing for food, clothing, housing, and other necessities.
The purpose of alimony is to support the needs and standard of living of the spouse, not to equalize incomes. While a divorce action is pending, the court may require one spouse to pay as alimony any money necessary to support the other spouse or the children of the parties.
For more information about alimony in South Dakota, download The South Dakota Child Custody and Divorce Handbook™.
Is same-sex marriage legal in South Dakota?
Yes. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States - including South Dakota.
In South Dakota, can I change my premarital agreement after I'm married?
It depends. In South Dakota, once the parties have been married, a premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties.
For more information about premarital agreements in South Dakota, click here.
Is my premarital agreement enforceable in South Dakota?
Maybe. A "premarital agreement" is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage. A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
For more information about whether your premarital agreement will "hold up" in South Dakota, click here.