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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  • Are my living expenses considered when calculating child support in South Dakota?


    Living expenses would fit into the "relative financial condition" and could also include debts and expenses. These are factors a court may consider as a deviation from the Child Support Guidelines.

  • Is my bonus from work figured into child support in South Dakota?

    A bonus is income not accounted for in monthly income, and in order to count the bonus, it must be in the possession of the parent and consistently awarded.

  • How are child support arrears calculated in South Dakota?

    The court primarily looks at tax returns. In certain cases, the court may determine the parents' annualized income for purposes of calculating child support over a period of years.

  • Can my South Dakota child support increase when I am supporting my special needs child?


    Yes. In South Dakota, you can deviate from the child support schedule when you have a special needs child. For example, the cost of a caregiver with skills necessary to handle a child's complicated medication regimen or a specific vehicle that would support a child with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder.

  • How are retirement assets handled in a South Dakota divorce?


    In South Dakota, one way to handle retirement assets is through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. Under this arrangement, the QDRO will specify the terms under which you or your former spouse can receive an interest in a qualified retirement plan, like a 401(k) or pension. 

  • What 5 financial steps should I take prior to my South Dakota divorce?


    In South Dakota, here are 5 financial steps you should take prior to your divorce:

    1.  Open accounts in your name - including your own credit card, checking account, and savings account.  You may also want to have your paycheck directly deposited into your checking account.

    2.  Contact your creditors and ask to stop any future charges by your spouse.

    3.  Realize that late payments on your joint accounts or credit cards will likely remain your legal obligation as a co-owner.

    4.  Take a look at your credit report.  This can be done simply and inexpensively by using an Internet site.

    5.  Open an interim account to manage interim expenses between your separation and divorce.

  • Are you paying too much for child support in South Dakota?


    In South Dakota, parents have the ability to seek a review of child support under certain circumstances. 

    When child support is calculated, you must make sure that all of the numbers entered into the child support guidelines are accurate, including income, health insurance costs, child care costs, etc. If any of these numbers are incorrect, they could cause your child support to also be incorrect.

  • Who is an "extended family member" under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)?

    An "extended family member" is defined by the law or custom of the Indian child’s tribe, or in the absence of such law or custom, is a person who has reached the age of 18 and who is the Indian child’s grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, or stepparent.

    25 U.S.C. § 1903(2)

  • What is the purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)?


    Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 in response to the removal of Indian children from their families. Congressional findings memorialized in ICWA included “an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by non-tribal public and private agencies and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions” and that states “often failed to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the cultural and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families.”

  • Who is a "qualified expert witness" under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)?


    A "qualified expert witness" is a person who will testify that the child’s continued custody by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child at both the foster care hearing and termination of parental rights, and should be qualified to testify as to the prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian child’s tribe. A person may be designated by the child's tribe. The court or any party may request the assistance of the child's tribe in locating persons qualified to serve as expert witnesses. The witness cannot be the social worker assigned to the case.

    25 U.S.C. § 1912 (e) & (f); 25 C.F.R. § 23.122(a)