In a South Dakota child custody case, what does "parental fitness" mean?

When a South Dakota court determines child custody, it focuses on what is in the best interests of the child.  In making this decision, one of the primary factors is looking at "parental fitness."  When evaluating "parental fitness" a South Dakota court may consider the following factors:

(1) mental and physical health;

(2) capacity and disposition to provide the child with protection, food, clothing, medical care, and other basic needs;

(3) ability to give the child love, affection, guidance, education and to impart the family's religion or creed;

(4) willingness to maturely encourage and provide frequent and meaningful contact between the child and the other parent;

(5) commitment to prepare the child for responsible adulthood, as well as to insure that the child experiences a fulfilling childhood; and

(6) exemplary modeling so that the child witnesses firsthand what it means to be a good parent, a loving spouse, and a responsible citizen.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones