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Co-Parenting in South Dakota: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Custody Rights in South Dakota

In South Dakota, custody is determined by the legal standards set forth in SDCL § 25-5-6.1. This law states that the court shall consider the best interests of the children when deciding custody. Factors include, but are not limited to, “the stability of the home environment, the ability of the parents to provide a safe and caring home, the relationship between the parents and the child, each parent’s ability to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, each parent’s mental and physical health, and each parent’s social and financial status.” The court may award physical, sole, or joint custody. Physical custody grants a parent the right to live with and care for the child on a day-to-day basis. Sole custody is when one parent retains physical and legal custody of the child. Joint custody allows the parents to share legal and physical custody of the child, though either party may request sole legal custody for reasons of safety or welfare.


Child Support in South Dakota

In South Dakota, non-custodial parents are expected to contribute to the financial care of their children. The amount of the payment is determined by the South Dakota Child Support Guidelines, found in SDCL § 25-7-2. These guidelines use a formula to calculate a parents’ monthly obligation, based on their income, the number of children, any other court-ordered alimony payments, health care costs, and additional financial assistance.


Co-Parenting Expenses in South Dakota

Alongside child support, co-parents in South Dakota may also be responsible for covering medical and educational expenses. These may include medical bills, dental bills, college tuition, day care expenses, and other costs related to the children’s upbringing. Co-parents can agree on how these co-parenting expenses will be split, or the court can order one parent to pay a set amount each month.


Parental Rights in South Dakota

The legal rights of co-parents in South Dakota are laid out in SDCL § 25-5A-2. This law sets forth that both parents are entitled to “equal rights to the care, custody, and control of the minor children of the marriage, and are equally entitled to the opportunity of visitation under reasonable circumstances and conditions as provided by law.” This means that both parents have the right to have input in decisions related to the children and can have equal access to the children’s medical and educational records, as well as access to participate in activities such as scouting and church activities.


Decision-Making in South Dakota

Under South Dakota law, both parents are typically expected to make decisions regarding the health and welfare of their children. These decisions can range from medical decisions and education plans, to religion and extracurricular activities, and are often made with inputs from both parents. In cases of joint custody, it is generally the parents’ responsibility to negotiate and reach an agreement, however, the court may provide mediation if the parents are unable to come to a consensus.


Parenting Plan in South Dakota

In South Dakota, a parenting plan must be accepted by both parties and submitted to the court before custody is granted. The plan is designed to provide structure and predictability in making decisions related to the children. The plan should include provisions for decisions, communication, and visitation.


Visitation Rights in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the non-custodial parent is typically granted a reasonable amount of visitation with the child, unless it is demonstrated that the visit would not be in the best interest of the child. The court will usually require the custodial parent to make reasonable efforts to ensure the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights are respected.


Mediation in South Dakota

In cases where the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the court may order parties to attend mediation. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party facilitates communication and helps the parties reach an amicable resolution. It is generally faster and less expensive than litigation and can help co-parents avoid court battles.



Co-parenting in South Dakota can be a challenging and complex process. It is important to understand the legal rights, responsibilities, and obligations that come with being a co-parent. By familiarizing yourself with the laws of South Dakota and understanding the best interests of the children, it is possible to co-parent with as little stress and aggravation as possible.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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