South Dakota Divorce Laws - What You Need to Know!

The process of splitting up a marriage can be difficult, not just on an emotional level, but on a legal level. You must know what laws and regulations apply in South Dakota. This is important so that you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you really get what you deserve, and it's important so that you can work through the legal steps without issue. Below are a few of the key things that you must keep in mind.

No Fault

The first thing you should know is that South Dakota has a no-fault divorce law. You may know that you are leaving your spouse because he or she was unfaithful to you or because of issues with money, but you cannot put that into the divorce proceedings. Fault cannot be assigned to either party. Instead, you will most likely have to use grounds like “irreconcilable differences.

There is one part of the case where fault may be considered, though not as a grounds for divorce: child custody. For example, you may be seeking the divorce due to the way that your spouse treats the children; with the goal of keeping those children safe, the court will want to know about this decision. Similar things may also play into alimony decisions. However, on the whole, you must use a no-fault divorce.

Property Division

As far as splitting up your property goes, the judge is going to seek an equitable decision. This in no way means that the division will be equal, as is the goal in community property states. Instead, the judge will attempt to give wealth and assets to the party who really owns or deserves them. A car that a husband uses every day for work may be given to the husband, for example, or money that a wife earned through her own work may be given to the wife, even if that means that the other party does not get 50 percent of the possessions or the wealth. Since the judge has so much say in the process, you may have to make your case.

Child Support

Determining child support is basically a process of determining how much support the child would have naturally been given if you and your spouse had remained a couple. A monetary value will be put on this based on how much money you each make, what the child needs, and many similar factors. Since you are splitting up, though, the judge will then have to look at who makes what percentage of the money. That person will, in most cases, have to pay more, though the other party will have to pay as well, based on their own earnings. Likewise, the judge will consider how much support is provided on a daily basis from each parent —- this is important because the parent who has the main custody rights, with whom the child lives, often takes on these expenses.

Child Custody

Child custody cases are resolved when the judge determines a solution that is best for the child. You and your spouse are allowed to draft your own agreement and submit it. If this proves impossible —- if you want sole legal and physical custody, for instance, but so does your spouse -— then the judge will determine what should be done. He or she will attempt to keep both parents as involved as possible so that the child does not lose out on that aspect of a family unit. Many factors are considered, including income levels, living situations, criminal records, occupations, and the like.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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