South Dakota Child Custody FAQ

- South Dakota's Child Custody Basics - (Basics)
- Child Custody FAQ - (FAQ)
Find Your Family Court Enforcement
- Child Support Enforcement - (Enforcement)
- Taxes - (Taxes)
- Working With a Lawyer - (Lawyers)
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South Dakota Child Custody FAQ

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Answers to Questions About Child Custody in South Dakota
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Updated: 2021-05-05 by

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Get Help Finding a South Dakota Child Custody Lawyer

If you want to find a good child custody lawyer, consider starting with these sources:

  • Family and friends. Ask people you know and trust whether they have hired a family lawyer in the past -- or if they know someone else who has. If you hear a name once, that could be a starting point. If you hear the same name many times, put that person on your list of lawyers to call.
  • Other lawyers. If you know and respect a lawyer who works in another of the law -- for example a business or estate planning lawyer -- ask if they know a good family law attorney (or whether they’re willing to ask around on your behalf).
  • Counselors or therapists. If you’re seeing a counselor or therapist -- especially a marriage counselor -- ask for lawyer recommendations.
  • Professional associations. If you don't get any good personal referrals, turn to professional associations for family lawyers. Many good family lawyers belong to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). You can also contact the State Bar of South Dakota for family lawyer referrals.

More Information for South Dakota Residents

To learn more, including:

  • how to find free or low-cost legal assistance, and
  • interview questions to ask a professional before you turn over your case

see How to Find a Child Custody Lawyer in South Dakota.

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What Is Physical vs. Legal Custody of a Child?

Every child custody decision has two essential parts:

Physical custody determines where the children will live.

Legal custody refers to the right to make other important decisions for the children—for example, religious upbringing, medical care, and choices about education.

For more details about the different types of child custody and how they fit together, see How Does Child Custody Work in South Dakota?

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What Is Joint vs. Sole Custody of a Child?

While the terms physical custody and legal custody refer to types of decisions affecting your children, “joint custody” and “sole custody” refer to who makes those choices on behalf of the kids.

Joint custody refers to a situation where both parents make decisions.

Sole custody means that just one parent has control.

Note that these two types of custody can be blended, and that joint custody doesn’t necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

For example, parents could be granted joint legal custody—giving them both a say in important decisions about their child’s education, religious training, medical treatment, and the like—while one parent gets sole physical custody, meaning that the child will live with him or her and most likely visit the other.

For more details about the different types of child custody and how they fit together, see How Does Child Custody Work in South Dakota?

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What Is Split Custody?

Split custody means that each parent takes primary custody of different kids—think of the film “The Parent Trap,” where the parents separate the twin sisters as babies, raising one in California and one in Boston. Such arrangements are unlikely to lead to Hollywood endings and are usually disfavored, but there are rare situations in which split custody may make sense. For example, if the siblings aren’t close or if a particular child-parent relationship is unusually strained, an unconventional arrangement might be appropriate.

Before you ask for split custody, it’s wise to consult a counselor or custody evaluator—a therapist that specializes in softening the blow of divorce on children by evaluating the family situation and making recommendations. Your lawyer or your local court should be able to help you find a qualified custody evaluator in your area.

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About This Website

Here at Legal Consumer, we've been busy building websites to get people the legal answers and information they need. Our goal is to guide you to reliable, local information about your options.

We'll be adding new topics over time, but you can currently use our websites to find comprehensive information on:

On this website, when you choose your state or enter your zip code, you will quickly learn:

  • how child custody works in your state
  • how to find and use your local family law court
  • how judges make custody decisions
  • how to find a good child custody lawyer
  • how to get help creating parenting plan
  • how to enfoce a child custody or visitation order in your state
  • and more.

We know that it's stressful to face difficult issues involving your family and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to find the answers you need.

Who We Are

Legal Consumer

Legal Consumer is a company that believes you should have access to quality information about the legal issues affecting your life. Whether you’re facing financial difficulties, family challenges, health concerns, or trouble at your job, we want to help you get the resources you need. Our websites are written by lawyers and designed to give you accurate, relevant information for your location.

Albin Renauer, Owner and Founder

Albin Renauer is an independent web and database developer and Webby Award judge. He first created as an online companion to his book, How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, to help people file for bankruptcy.

After receiving his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1985, Albin worked for various public-interest law firms in the Bay Area and as a staff attorney for Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court.  He spent 17 years as an editor at leading do-it-yourself legal publisher Nolo, where he helped create numerous books and software programs, including the bestselling Quicken WillMaker. He also edited Law on the Net, the first online directory of legal resources, and was the architect of Nolo's Webby Award winning website.

Shae Irving, Writer and Editor

Shae Irving has been a legal editor and writer since 1994, when she joined the editorial staff at Nolo, specializing in estate planning, health care, and family law issues. For almost a decade, she was the managing editor of Nolo’s bestselling Quicken WillMaker software. Her books include Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for California and Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract. Shae graduated from Berkeley Law and briefly practiced at a large San Francisco law firm before becoming an editor and author. She began working with Legal Consumer in 2013.

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