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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  • How is habitual intemperance defined in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, habitual intemperance is that degree of intemperance from the use of intoxicating drinks which disqualifies the person a great portion of the time from properly attending to business, or which would reasonably inflict a course of great mental anguish upon the innocent party.

  • What are irreconcilable differences in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, irreconcilable differences are those grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved.

  • How are child support obligations determined in South Dakota?

    The South Dakota Legislature has established guidelines which courts must follow to determine that an equitable share of parental income and resources are allocated to the child when that child’s parents are separated, divorced or unmarried.

    The combined monthly net incomes of both parents are used in determining the obligation and divided proportionately between the parents based on their respective net incomes. The noncustodial parent's proportionate share establishes the amount of the child support order.

    The court may also apportion the costs for child care and health and dental insurance between the parents.  These guidelines are presumed appropriate unless either parent presents evidence warranting a deviation.

    Orders are established in accordance with the South Dakota child support guidelines.  To determine the child support payment based on the combined monthly net income of both parents and the number of children, you can utilize the Child Support Obligation Schedule.

  • What is a step-parent adoption in South Dakota?

    A step-parent adoption is when a step-parent petitions the court for adoption of his or her spouse's child (current spouse of step-parent) from a former marriage or relationship.  Both the parent retaining custody and the other birth parent must consent to the adoption. Step-parent adoptions do not require an adoptive home study or investigation. The child is not being placed for adoption, rather they are joining the family with a birth parent. 

  • What is an independent adoption in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, an independent adoption is when a birth parent places a child directly with prospective adoptive parent(s) for the purpose of adoption.

  • What is a private agency adoption in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, a private agency adoption is when a birth parent gives and transfers their legal parental rights to a child to a licensed public or private adoption agency.

  • How is an adoption home study completed in South Dakota?

    In South Dakota, there are several private agencies and licensed social workers who are willing to provide home study services to independent adopters.

  • What is the South Dakota Voluntary Adoption Registry?

    The South Dakota Department of Social Services maintains a Voluntary Adoption Registry of adoptees and natural parents who have consented to the release of identifying information about themselves. The purpose of the registry is to facilitate voluntary contact between adoptees 18 years or older who were born in South Dakota and their birth parents.

    Siblings of the adopted person 18 or older may also register. The registry is passive, meaning the Department of Social Services does not search for adoptees or for birth parents whose names are not included in the registry.

  • Do South Dakota courts treat "marital property" differently than "premarital property" or "inherited property"?

    No. With respect to marital property, South Dakota is an "all property state," meaning all property of the divorcing parties is subject to equitable division by the court, regardless of title or origin. This includes inherited property and premarital property.

  • What factors does a South Dakota court look at when determining child custody?

    When determining custody, South Dakota court are guided by consideration of what appears to be for the best interests of the child in respect to the child's temporal and mental and moral welfare.  A South Dakota court may, but is not required to, consider the following factors in determining the best interests and welfare of the child:

    • parental fitness,
    • stability,
    • primary caretaker,
    • child's preference,
    • harmful parental misconduct,
    • separating siblings, and
    • substantial change of circumstances.