Child custody and child support are some of the most difficult issues you’ll face as you go through your divorce. When negotiating with your spouse about these issues, you have to keep in mind that what’s best for your child is the most important thing to consider.
In South Dakota, you and your spouse can decide on child custody, which is why it’s a lot better if both parents can reach an agreement on child custody and support. The terms of child custody and support can be included in the separation agreement which is binding on both parties when signed. If both spouses can reach a support agreement, it may not be necessary to go to court.
SOUTH DAKOTA CHILD CUSTODY TRIAL
If no agreement is reached, then there will be a trial for child custody. A child custody trial is heard in front of a Circuit Court Judge in the county where the lawsuit was filed. It's interesting to note that you’re not entitled to a jury trial for child custody in South Dakota.
HOW DOES A JUDGE DETERMINE CHILD CUSTODY?
In South Dakota, a judge's child custody decision is guided by what is in the child's "best interests." A judge may take many factors into consideration before making a ruling, including parental fitness, stability, primary caretaker, child's preference, harmful parental misconduct, and separartion of siblings. A judge’s ultimate goal in awarding child custody is for the good of the child.
HOW DOES A JUDGE DETERMINE CHILD SUPPORT?
In South Dakota, a parent’s child support obligation is governed by the Child Support Guidelines. The amount to be paid is determined primarily by the combined incomes of the parents, the number of children for whom support is required, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.
For more about child custody and support in South Dakota, download The South Dakota Child Custody and Divorce Handbook.