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Child Custody in South Dakota

Familiarize Yourself with Child Custody Laws in South Dakota


South Dakota uses several criteria to determine child custody. Primarily, a family court in South Dakota will determine child custody based on a child's best interests. Parents who wish to file for child custody in South Dakota should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.

Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with child custody in South Dakota.

The Best Interests of the Child

In South Dakota, the court will consider the following factors when determining the best interests of the child:

  • The child's preference, if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity to make a reasonable decision (generally age 12 or older)
  • The child's moral and mental well-being
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse

Joint Custody in South Dakota

When determining child custody in South Dakota, a court will consider a joint custody award that allows both parents to enjoy equal rights and responsibilities involved with raising their child. Prior to ordering joint custody, a court will consider:

  • Each parent's wishes, and
  • The best interests of the child

A South Dakota court may order or ask the parents to agree on how the following terms will be handled in a joint custody arrangement:

  • The child's physical residence
  • The child's education
  • The child's medical and dental care
  • Other responsibilities serving the child's best interests

Relocation and Child Custody in South Dakota

In South Dakota, if a custody order does not specify any provision for relocation, a custodial parent looking to relocate must provide reasonable notice, via certified mail, to the other parent at least 45 days before the intended relocation. A shorter period of notice is acceptable under certain circumstances. The courts do not require notice if:

  • The child will live closer to the noncustodial parent after the move
  • The parent is moving within the child's current school district
  • There is an order of protection in favor of the custodial parent against the noncustodial parent
  • If the noncustodial parent has been convicted of domestic violence, child abuse, or assault within the past 12 months

The notice of the relocation must include the following:

  • The address and telephone number of the new residence
  • An explanation of why the relocation is in the child's best interests
  • The purpose of the relocation
  • The new, proposed visitation plan for the non-relocating parent

For more information about child custody in South Dakota, speak with a qualified attorney in South Dakota or refer to the South Dakota Domestic Relations statue.

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