As you prepare to go through a divorce or separation, you likely have a lot of things weighing on your mind. If you share children with your ex, your top concern probably has to do with child custody. How is child custody determined in South Dakota?
Like all other states, child custody is determined by looking at a number of factors. The top factor being what living situation serves the best interests of the child.
Two ways to go about establishing a custody order
There are two ways you can go about establishing a custody order. First, you and your ex can negotiate terms you believe are fair and best serve your family. This way is ideal, as you will have control over the terms and will likely be happier with the result. After you set up a plan, it does still require court for approval before it becomes official.
The second way to go about establishing a custody order is by going to court. Unfortunately, not all parents can agree on what is best for their children. If you find you and your ex cannot reach agreeable terms, you can ask a judge to set the terms of the custody agreement for you. Doing this requires requesting a custody hearing, at which you and your ex will both have the opportunity to present your case for the custody arrangement you believe is best.
There are several custody options available to South Dakota parents, such as:
- Sole physical and legal custody
- Joint physical and legal custody
- Sole legal custody with joint physical custody or visitation rights
- Sole physical custody with joint legal custody rights
Joint physical and legal custody is the preferred arrangement, as it gives children time with each parent and gives both parents a say in their kids’ upbringing. However, the state understands that this arrangement is not the best in every circumstance.
Do children get a say?
In many states, children do not get a say in custody matters, or they do but only when they reach a certain age. In South Dakota, the court will consider a child’s wishes.
Fight for what you think is best for your children
Your child custody order will affect your children in several ways. Fight for what you think is best for them. If needed down the line, you may adjust custody terms if you feel they are not serving your family’s best interests.