The Swier Law Firm Family Law FAQs

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.

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  • Do grandparents have visitation rights in South Dakota?

    Yes. In South Dakota, the court may grant grandparents reasonable rights of visitation with their grandchild, with or without petition by the grandparents, if the visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild and:

    • If the visitation will not significantly interfere with the parent-child relationship; or
    • If the parent or custodian of the grandchild has denied or prevented the grandparent reasonable opportunity to visit the grandchild.

    For more about grandparent visitation rights in South Dakota, download The South Dakota Child Custody and Divorce Handbook. 

  • How does a court divide property in a South Dakota divorce?

    In a South Dakota divorce, a court divides property by considering:

    (1) length of the marriage;

    (2) value of the property owned by the spouses;

    (3) age of the spouses;

    (4) health of the spouses;

    (5) ability of the spouses to earn a living;

    (6) contribution of each spouse to accumulating the property; and

    (7) income-producing capacity of the property owned by the spouses.

  • What is a retainer and how is it determined?

    A "retainer fee" or “retainer” is an amount of money paid before an attorney begins work. The amount is an estimate of the number of hours we think it will take our team to complete your case.

    Of course, this is much like attempting to summarize a book by reading its first few pages or reviewing a movie based on the previews - we do not fully know what we are in for until we are in it. Ethically, once an attorney represents you, he cannot stop representing you if it would unduly prejudice your interests. It is easier for a client to end representation at any time than it is for an attorney to do the same.

    For more information about legal fees, click here.

  • South Dakota Child Support FAQ

    In South Dakota, a parent’s child support obligation is governed by the Child Support Guidelines. The amount to be paid is determined primarily by the combined incomes of the parents, the number of children for whom support is required, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.


    Yes. The parents of a minor child are jointly and severally obligated for the necessary maintenance, education, and support of the child.


    Maybe. Child support is calculated by taking into consideration many factors. Specifically, the court will look at the custody arrangement, income of both parties, cost of insurance, and child care expenses. Child support is a set formula that is set by the South Dakota child support guidelines. As you can see many factors are taken into consideration and every case is different. If you have custody of your child and you think you might be entitled to child support contact our office to schedule a consultation and we can evaluate your specific circumstances and give you more information.


    The amount of support each parent pays depends on income and time spent with the child. South Dakota sets a base support amount according to the child support guidelines, which are simply a fee schedule, but the final amount of support a court will order could be quite different. Other costs including the child’s medical care must be included. Also, a court can adjust the amount of support either up or down to better meet the child’s needs.


    Except when a parent is physically or mentally disabled, it is presumed that a parent is capable of being employed at the minimum wage and the parent’s child support obligation is determined at a rate not less than full-time employment at the state minimum wage.


    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.

    For more about child support in our state, download The South Dakota Child Custody and Divorce Handbook™.

  • Does South Dakota have a "no fault" divorce?

    No. In South Dakota, you must have grounds for a divorce.

    Speak With An Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

    If you need the guidance of an experienced Family Law attorney please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 888.864.9981 to schedule your free consultation.

  • In South Dakota, what is temporary spousal support?

    It is common for attorneys to request temporary relief when a divorce has been started. These are basically temporary orders to help maintain the status quo and spell out the "ground rules" while the divorce action is pending.


    Issues such as child custody, support, and visitation are often addressed in these temporary orders. Other things which can also be included are temporary alimony, who will live in the family residence, and how the bills will be paid until the divorce is finalized. 

    Speak With An Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

    If you need the guidance of an experienced Family Law attorney please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 888.864.9981 to schedule your free consultation.

  • What standard does a court use in minor child relocation hearing?

    Beginning on July 1, 2020, a court must consider the "best interest of the child" standard if the proposed relocation would result in a substantial alteration to the existing parenting time arrangement.

  • In South Dakota, how many days are allowed for the solemnization of marriage?

    Beginning on July 1, 2020, any marriage license issued in South Dakota will become void unless the marriage is solemnized within ninety days.

  • Is it legal for someone to accept money or other things of value in an adoption in South Dakota?

    No. In fact, under South Dakota law, any person who offers, gives or receives any money, or other consideration or thing of value, in connection with the placing of any child for adoption, with the consent to adoption, or with the petition for adoption except for charges approved by the court and fees charged by licensed agencies is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

  • How long wlll it take to adopt?

    The time that it takes to adopt a child varies depending on the preferences and restrictions that you have. For example, you may be able to adopt a child from foster care or a child with special needs within a few months, while an international adoption may take years because it may involve multiple adoption agencies and immigration paperwork. If you are unwilling to wait for a long time, you should consider being more flexible in the types of children whom you are willing to consider.