3 Secrets Every Grandparent Should Know About Visitation Rights In South Dakota

As soon as grandparents learn that their child is facing a divorce, their main concern may be whether they can visit their grandchildren after the divorce. 

Here are 3 secrets that every grandparent should know about visitation rights in South Dakota.

Secret #1 - Do grandparents have any visitation rights in South Dakota?

Yes. In South Dakota, the court may grant grandparents reasonable rights of visitation with their grandchild, with or without petition by the grandparents, if the visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild and:

  • If the visitation will not significantly interfere with the parent-child relationship; or
  • If the parent or custodian of the grandchild has denied or prevented the grandparent reasonable opportunity to visit the grandchild.

Secret #2 - Can grandparents obtain custody of a grandchild in South Dakota?

Natural parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit. A court will only intervene if the parent is unable to meet the child’s needs. Under very limited circumstances, a grandparent may obtain custody of a grandchild. Under most circumstances, a grandparent who seeks custody of a grandchild must prove that:

  • the parent has consistently neglected the child;
  • the parent forfeited or surrendered parental rights to the child to anyone other than the other parent;
  • the parent abandoned his or her parental rights and responsibilities; or
  • other extraordinary circumstances exist which show that parental custody would harm the child.

Secret #3 - Is there a federal law that governs a grandparent's custody or visitation rights?

No. There isn't a federal law governing grandparent rights. These issues are determined under state laws.

For more about grandparent visitation rights in South Dakota, download Your Essential Guide to Child Custody and Divorce in South Dakota™.

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