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Family Law

When It's A Matter Of Importance

Family Law: News & Updates

Compassionate Support & Effective Guidance for South Dakota Families

At Schlimgen Law Firm we know how difficult it can be to deal with family legal issues. Often, there are high stakes and loved ones involved, both of which further complicate these matters. If you have any family law needs, it is recommended that you retain the services of a trusted and experienced attorneys to guide you throughout the legal process.
Eric is intimately familiar with all aspects of South Dakota family law. He is experienced in this practice area, giving him unique insight into its myriad procedures, rules, and laws. He can help you make well-informed decisions for your future and family as we navigate you every step of the way. You can rely on us for the personalized and proficient legal services you deserve.

Specific Family Law Areas of Practice

Schlimgen Law Firm can handle the following matters:

  • Divorce

  • Alimony

  • Adoption

  • Child support

  • Child custody

  • Modifications

  • Parenting time

  • Contested divorce

  • Uncontested divorce

  • Alienation of Affection


South Dakota offers “no-fault” divorce which means that, if both parties agree to the divorce, it is not necessary to prove marital fault or misconduct. No-fault divorce is based on the concept of irreconcilable differences, which means the spouses agree that the marriage is irreparably damaged and nothing can be done to restore it.

South Dakota also provides “fault” grounds for divorce should that be appropriate. In these cases, sufficient evidence must be provided to the court to prove the allegations.

These grounds include:

  • Adultery

  • Willful desertion (abandonment)

  • Habitual intemperance (alcohol abuse)

  • A felony conviction

  • Extreme cruelty (grievous physical injury or mental suffering)

  • Willful neglect

Divorce issues that must be resolved include child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support, and the equitable division of marital property and debts. If the parties cannot agree on these issues by themselves or through negotiation or mediation, the court will make the decisions for them.

Spousal Support

The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the supported spouse is able to maintain the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. Courts may order the payments to be made for a specific time period or indefinitely. They may be made in monthly payments or as a lump sum.

Generally, South Dakota recognizes three different types of alimony:

  • Permanent, which is paid indefinitely until a change in circumstances occurs for the supported spouse, such as a remarriage.

  • Rehabilitative, which is paid only until the supported spouse has become skilled enough to work and become sufficiently self-supporting. This is often the case for mothers who stayed at home to care for children.

  • Restitutional, which is paid only until the supported spouse completes his or her education or training.

No set formula has been devised by the state to calculate alimony. Courts will look at various factors specific to the case in its determination. These factors include the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the ages and health conditions of the spouses, as well as their current incomes, debts, and assets. Also important is whether one spouse provided care of the children in lieu of employment, both spouses’ earning potentials, how the marital property was distributed, and any other relevant factor.

Child Custody

How Is Child Custody Decided in South Dakota?

South Dakota courts make a determination on child custody based on the standard of what is in the best interests of the child. Generally, joint custody is preferred so as to maintain a continuing relationship with both parents. The child's own wishes regarding custody may be recognized by the court when the child reaches a particular age. Preferential consideration is not given to mothers simply because of their sex — both parents are considered equally.

Courts will make custody and visitation decisions based on many factors.

Common factors influencing child custody decisions include:

  • The physical and mental health conditions of both parents

  • Who has been the child’s primary caretaker during the marriage

  • How the child’s school and community relationships will be affected

  • How the child’s relationships with other household members will be affected

  • Evidence of any parental abuse or extreme discipline

  • Evidence of any parental substance abuse

Once custody and visitation arrangements have become an order of the court, they are deemed enforceable. Child custody and parenting time have the ability to be modified by the court. Parents must petition the court for modifications.

Alienation of Affection

Alienation of affection is a legal concept in some jurisdictions, including South Dakota, that allows a spouse to sue a third party for deliberately interfering with their marriage, leading to the loss of affection and love between spouses. 

South Dakota is one of the few states that protects the marriage relationship form intentional, outside interference. The elements of the tort of alienation of affections were identified by the South Dakota Supreme Court in Pearsall v. Colgan, 76 NW2d at 621 (SD 1956). In Pearsall these elements were identified as:

  1. wrongful conduct of the defendant;

  2. loss of affection or consortium; and

  3. a causal connection between such conduct and loss.

It's important to note that alienation of affection cases can be complex, emotionally charged, and can vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances. Additionally, laws and interpretations may change, so consulting with an attorney who specializes in family law or marital disputes in South Dakota is essential if you believe you have a valid claim or if you need further information on this legal concept. This information is provided as a general overview and should not be considered legal advice.

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