In South Dakota, what is “joint legal custody”?

In any custody dispute between parents, a court may order “joint legal custody.” This arrangement allows both parents to maintain full parental rights and responsibilities. It also requires that both parents confer on, and participate in, major decisions affecting their child.

In ordering joint legal custody, a court may consider the parent’s desires and may provide to one parent the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare. A court may also divide these aspects between the parents based on the child’s best interests. If it appears to be in the child’s best interests, the court may order, or the parties may agree, how these responsibilities will be divided.

These areas of responsibility may include the child’s primary physical residence, child care, education, extracurricular activities, medical and dental care, religious instruction, the child's use of motor vehicles, and any other responsibilities which a court finds unique to a particular family or in the child’s best interests. 

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