RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:
The person filing for a divorce must be a resident of the state and remain a resident until a divorce decree is entered. An action for divorce may be filed in either the county where the plaintiff or the defendant lives, and there is at least a 60 day waiting period from the time the divorce petition is served and the court hearing or determination of the divorce.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
The court may order a divorce based on the following grounds: (1) Adultery; (2) Extreme cruelty; (3) Willful desertion; (4) Willful neglect; (5) Alcohol abuse; (6) Conviction of felony; (7) Irreconcilable differences.
LEGAL SEPARATION: A husband and wife may separate and agree in writing provisions for child support, spousal support, and property division. A separation may be granted upon the same grounds as required for a dissolution.
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
In any custody or visitation dispute, the court may order mediation to assist the parties in formulating or modifying a plan for custody or visitation. The court may also request that an investigation be conducted to help the court in making a custody or visitation determination. The cost of the mediation and/or the investigation shall be allocated between the parties.
South Dakota is an equitable distribution state. Marital assets will be distributed in an equitable fashion, regardless of who holds the title. Fault is not a factor unless it is relevant to the acquisition of the property during the marriage.
Either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to the other party for a period of time as the court deems just.
The trial court may, in its discretion or upon the terms of the decree, restore a woman’s maiden name or the name she legally bore prior to her marriage to the husband in the divorce suit.
The determination of child custody is based on the best interests of the child in respect to the child’s temporal and mental and moral welfare. If the child is of a sufficient age to form an intelligent preference, the court may consider that preference in determining custody. There is no preference towards either gender in determining custody, and fault is not considered relevant unless it relates to the fitness as a parent, such as domestic abuse or assault, or a conviction, excluding vehicular homicide, of a parent for the death of the other parent.
Child support is based on the “Income Shares” model, meaning that the combined monthly net incomes of both parents shall be used in determining the obligation and divided proportionately between the parents based upon their respective net incomes. The non-custodial parents share determines the level of child support to be awarded, based on the number of children from the marriage.
Premarital agreements shall be in writing and signed by both parties. Premarital agreements may include provisions that define the respective property rights of the parties during the marriage, or upon the death of either or both of the parties. The agreement may provide for the disposition of marital property upon a divorce or separation of the parties, but may not adversely affect the right of child support.