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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  • Should I make changes to my will after a divorce in South Dakota?

    A will is an important document that lays out your wishes for the distribution of your assets. If you created your will when you were still married, you should consider making changes to it now that you've gone through a divorce.

    South Dakota divorce is a major event that impacts every part of your life, and these types of events often prompt a person to take stock of their lives and the people around them. Sometimes, it can lead them to rethink the decisions they made when they created their estate planning documents.

    Whether you want to make changes to your will after your divorce is entirely up to you. Some people may be fine with leaving their will as it is, but often, there are reasons why you may want to re-evaluate your will after South Dakota divorce.

    Often ex-partners that have gone through a divorce aren't on the best terms and you may not want your ex to benefit from your death. Also, there may be issues with stepchildren, biological children, and other beneficiaries that may need to be changed in some way.

    Each South Dakota divorce is unique, as is every family. Nobody can tell you what to do with your will, but it's wise to have something up-to-date in writing that reflects your wishes. 

    If you're struggling with how to go about changing your will after divorce, you'll want to visit with an estate planner. Since your South Dakota divorce attorney helps with the aspects of your divorce, you could start your search there, as your attorney may have some important suggestions for you as you make the necessary changes to protect your loved ones' futures.

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

    A child is an "Indian Child" under ICWA if:

    • He or she is an unmarried person under the age of 18, and 

    1. The child is a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe; or

    2. a) Eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe and  

    2. b) Is the biological child of a member/ citizen of a federally recognized Indian tribe.

    25 U.S.C. § 1903(4)

  • How can a South Dakota adoption attorney help me if I am ready to give my child to a loving home?


    Making the decision to give your child up for adoption is not an easy one. Biological mothers often become very attached to the children growing inside of them. Even when they realize they would not be able to give their children an acceptable quality of life, giving up custody of the children can be extremely difficult.

    If this is a situation you are currently facing, you may have heard that having an adoption lawyer in South Dakota can help. While you are confident in your decision to surrender your child, there are still many questions about how to handle the procedure.

    How An Adoption Attorney Can Help You

    Your lawyer can negotiate with the adoptive parents.

    While you look for the right placement for your child, you will be faced with an overwhelming amount of information and considerations. Making these negotiations, such as money paid out for your labor, timing of giving up the child, etc., is not easy. Having an experienced lawyer at your side can ease the process and can help guide you toward making decisions that are in your best interest.

    Your lawyer can ensure your parental rights are terminated.

    When you know you want to give your child up for adoption, terminating your rights as the birth parent is a necessary step. This is best done with the help of a lawyer.

    Your lawyer can provide crucial help with specialty cases.

    In some unique cases, your adoption may become more complex than you may have initially realized. For example, Native American women giving up their children for adoption face a different set of laws and regulations than those of women that do not live in Native American communities. Having an attorney experienced in this area of the law can help.

    As you make your decision to give your child up for adoption, contact Swier Law Firm, Prof. LLC, for trustworthy and confidential help. Call us today at (605) 286-3218 and we will send you FREE a copy of our book on adoption in South Dakota.

  • In South Dakota, are there different types of adoptions?

    Yes. In South Dakota, there are several types of adoptions, including

    a) adoptions facilitated by social service agencies;

    b) private adoptions facilitated by adoption attorneys;

    c) adoptions facilitated by the South Dakota Department of Social Services;

    d) interstate adoptions;

    e) international adoptions;

    f) adult adoptions; and

    g) stepparent adoptions

  • Can the South Dakota Parenting Guidelines be modified by other court orders?

    Yes. The Parenting Guidelines are subject to any other provision established by a court regarding: (1) a temporary or permanent domestic protection order; (2) an order arising out of an abuse or neglect proceeding; (3) a bond condition arising out of a criminal case; and (4) an order in any other proceeding affecting child custody or support.

  • The Parenting Guidelines provide a framework for noncustodial parenting time including frequency and time for noncustodial parenting time; hours...

    The Parenting Guidelines provide a framework for noncustodial parenting time including frequency and time for noncustodial parenting time; hours or days of noncustodial parenting time; definitions for weekends, holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions; and time periods for summer noncustodial parenting time. 

  • Are there times that a South Dakota court cannot require mediation?

    Yes. A court cannot require mediation if: (1) one of the parents has been convicted of domestic abuse; or (2) one of the parents has been convicted of assault against a person as defined in subdivision 25-10-1(2), except against any person related by consanguinity, but not living in the same household; or (3) one of the parents has a history of domestic abuse; or (4) mediation is not readily available or the court determines that mediation is not appropriate based on the facts of the case.

  • Can a South Dakota court require mediation of a child custody dispute?

    Yes. In any custody or visitation dispute between parents, the court must order mediation to assist the parents in forming, implementing, or changing a plan. The mediation’s costs must be shared between the parents.  

  • In South Dakota, can a spouse‚Äôs conviction of domestic abuse or assault be considered in awarding child custody?

    Yes. In awarding custody, a court must consider (1) a conviction of domestic abuse as defined in SDCL 25-10-1(1); (2) a conviction of assault against a person as defined in SDCL 25-10-1(2),  except against any person related by consanguinity, but not living in the same household; or (3) a  history of domestic abuse.

    A conviction or history of domestic abuse creates a rebuttable presumption that awarding custody to the abusive parent is not in the child’s best interests.

  • When can a child tell a South Dakota court if she wants to live with Mom or Dad?

    If the child is of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference, a court may consider that preference in determining child custody.