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Divorce in Buffalo County
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Online Divorce in Buffalo County
Please note: OnlineDivorce.com in Buffalo County, South Dakota, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.
High legal fees prompt many divorcing couples to seek DIY divorces. A Do-It-Yourself divorce is an affordable option available in Buffalo County for couples who can agree on the terms of the divorce and not take it to trial. Although it is easy to find self-help resources for completing and filing, each state has unique requirements. Failure to meet divorce requirements may result in denying a divorce and starting the procedure all over again.
OnlineDivorce.com provides divorcing couples with printable divorce legal forms and assistance in preparing divorce documents for filing in Buffalo County. The easiest way to have a fast and simple divorce is an uncontested divorce where neither spouse contests the fact of getting a divorce and any divorce-related issue.
There is a short questionnaire on the website to ensure that your case is uncontested and qualifies for OnlineDivorce.com to help you. Depending on whether you have children and agree on your divorce terms, your answers will tell the system which court forms your case requires. All our forms are state-specific and court-approved, and your personal information is 100% secure with us. OnlineDivorce.com provides written instructions on how to fill out the forms and detailed explanations of all steps in a divorce process. Together with your spouse or by yourself, you can do it in a comfortable space of your choice. Take your time and read instructions as many times as you need. Next, we help you with our step-by-step court-filing instructions. You take the completed paperwork to the courthouse personally and file it with the court’s clerk.
Using OnlineDivorce.com is a popular option because it is easy, convenient, and cheap. You control the start of the process, and you know the divorce timeline. Our services are helpful to those wanting to initiate a divorce in Buffalo County and learn how to do it without a lawyer.
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Check if you qualify for an online divorce in Buffalo County, SD
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Valid grounds to get divorce in Buffalo County
In Buffalo County, SD, the court grants a divorce based on any of the following causes, also referred to as a legal ground for divorce: adultery, extreme cruelty; willful abandonment; willful neglect; alcoholism; felony conviction; and irreconcilable differences (See SD Codified L § 25-4-2).
Only the last cause is no-fault. It means that the judge will not require the petitioner to substantiate their Petition with testimony or evidence corroborating “irreconcilable differences.” The spouses can simply claim that their marriage is irretrievably broken. Such a claim can be used for an uncontested divorce.
If the petitioner chooses any of the other causes, the divorce is contested because fault-based grounds, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, etc. must be proven in court with evidence. This requires legal counsel and each spouse needs an attorney to represent him or her in a Buffalo County court.
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According to SD Codified L § 25-4-45, a child’s best interests are the guiding principle both for the court and parents when making custody decisions.
Pursuing an uncontested divorce in Buffalo County, the parents shall memorialize their agreement on child custody in writing, where they detail when the child resides with each of them, how and when the child spends holidays and vacations, how the parents split visitation schedules and child-related expenses, etc. By submitting a parenting plan to the court, the parents develop their custodial arrangements and visitation schedule. Upon reviewing it, the court either suggests modifications and changes or accepts it if the child’s best interests are met. In such a way, the divorcing spouses do not spend time on hearings and deliberations with the judge and resolve custody right away.
If, however, parents cannot resolve custody independently, the court shall do it for them. It will take somewhat more time because the court first finds out the child’s wishes and preferences (if age permits), the parents’ wishes and preferences as to custody, the child’s needs, health, and established residence, and the parents’ intentions regarding child care and daily living with the child.
Buffalo County courts typically split custody between the parents, determining the custodial and non-custodial parent. In Buffalo County, family courts do not particularly favor joint custody and do not encourage parental cooperation in raising a child. It means that the custodial parent usually spends more time with the child while the noncustodial parent pays more child support. Simultaneously, if the parent is deemed fit for having custody, their marital fault shall not affect custody determination.
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Rules for child support in Buffalo County
Regardless of the parents’ marital status, the child in Buffalo County can receive support to cover his or her physical care, education, maintenance, medical care, and other expenses (SD Codified L § 25-7-6.1).
If parents have an amicable divorce, they can write a mutual support agreement. Otherwise, the court decides it for them and issues a child support order. Determining the amount of child support, South Dakota courts use the Income Shares Method ordering each parent to pay their proportionate share of the family’s income as a monthly child support obligation. In this case, the noncustodial parent pays a percentage of the total monthly cost of raising the child following the custodial split. For example, if the parents share custody 40/60, the noncustodial parent pays 60% of the total child support.
The higher-earning parent typically pays more in child support than the lower-earning parent. To fully convey their financial circumstances, the parents disclose their financial information by submitting Child Support Worksheets.
In addition to the parent’s income and custodial status, a Buffalo County court shall also factor in tax consequences, the child’s health and medical care, and relevant aspects. Buffalo County calculates any extraordinary medical costs and college education costs separately from basic child support obligations.
If parents get awarded with joint custody, and each parent has the child over at least 180 overnights a year, the amount of child support gets reduced according to the amount of time spent with the child.
In South Dakota, child support obligations last until the child turns 18 or graduates high school (not longer than the child’s 19th birthday). As soon as a child gets married, child support ends too.
Unlike alimony, child support payments are not taxed in South Dakota.
Upon a request from either party, a Buffalo County court may compel one party to pay spousal support (also referred to as alimony or maintenance) to the other party (SD Codified L § 25-4-41) upon finding it necessary. The court examines relevant factors in each spouse’s life and the length of the marriage to determine whether alimony is justified, what kind of alimony to award, and for how long.
In deciding alimony in Buffalo County divorces, the court may consider either party’s marital fault and the marital standard of living. Each spouse’s share in the distribution of marital assets and each spouse’s custodial status and child support obligations, if they have children together, will also be factored in.
South Dakota has no spousal support calculation formula, and each divorce case is approached individually. A Buffalo County court always reviews any agreement between the spouses. Otherwise, the judge decides alimony at his or her discretion.
In South Dakota, alimony cannot be paid longer than the length of a marriage. Whether alimony duration will be based, a half or a third of marriage length is determined by the judge. South Dakota taxes alimony payments on a federal level if they are done in cash and designated strictly for alimony.
In Buffalo County, spousal support automatically ends as soon as the recipient either marries (or enters cohabitation) or dies.
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Property division in Buffalo County
If divorcing spouses agree to divide their assets, Buffalo County courts accept their agreement. If there is no agreement, the court must decide asset division; otherwise, the divorce cannot be granted. To distribute marital assets between the parties fairly and equitably, the court shall have regard for equity and the circumstances of the parties (See SD Codified L § 25-4-44).
Under South Dakota law, the court’s division of marital assets must follow the principle of equitable distribution. A Buffalo County judge considers each party’s contribution to the marital assets and household, to the other party’s education or training or earning capacity, and financial misconduct of either spouse. At that, each spouse has his or her separate assets which are not subjected to distribution. Non-monetary contributions are regarded as well.
Buffalo County courts do not follow specific lists of factors according to property division. This divorce-related issue is decided at the judge’s discretion on a case-by-case basis.
Vested and unvested pensions and retirement accounts also belong to marital assets and are subject to division. Given the complexity of pension valuation, the court usually accepts the value and any agreement between spouses. If spouses want to be confident that they won’t lose the value of a pension or pay the spouse in excess, they are advised to hire a divorce financial expert to determine the value of their marital asset correctly.
Mediation support in Buffalo County
Buffalo County courts do not mandate mediation for divorcing couples. However, couples can opt for divorce mediation as an alternative to litigating their case in court. Mediation is the fastest way to resolve contested issues before going to court. Mediation saves time and money and offers effective tools to negotiate terms and conditions for amicable marriage dissolution. Mediation is a chargeable service, but it usually is cheaper than legal consultation, and the parties typically divide mediation costs.
How to file for divorce in Buffalo County | Step-by-Step
Meet the residency requirements. South Dakota requires the plaintiff (the spouse initiating a divorce) to be a resident of the state at the moment of filing the divorce papers with the court (it means you have lived in South Dakota at least one day and intend to keep on living there). There are no residency requirements for finalizing a divorce, so the plaintiff may move during the proceedings (See SD Codified L § 25-4-30 (2013)).
Find out where to file and complete the court forms. South Dakota law allows the plaintiff to file in the county of residence of either party. However, the defendant (the spouse who gets served with the divorce papers) has the right to have the case transferred to his or her county if desired (See SD Codified L § 25-4-30.1 (2013)). As soon as you decide on the county of filing, go to the county’s website and check out any updates in legal forms, court fees, and other filing requirements. Now it is time to fill out the divorce forms. Obtained from the county circuit court personally, the South Dakota Unified Judicial System's forms index, or OnlineDivorce.com, the forms should be completed accurately and legibly. Make at least two copies of the documents and notarize all the divorce papers you filled out (put your signature in front of a notary).
File the court forms. Take the copies and the original of the documents to the Buffalo County court for filing. The court’s clerk will tell you how much you should pay in filing fees and file the original paperwork, giving your case a number and stamping the copies. Submit an Affidavit of Indigency requesting the court not to charge you a filing fee if you cannot afford to pay it. The court can waive filing fees for low-income individuals if they qualify.
Serve the spouse. The two copies of the divorce paperwork are for you and your spouse. You must deliver the packet of the filed divorce forms to your spouse as soon as possible to inform him or her of divorce proceedings on the way. Choose one method of serving from personal delivery by a professional process server, sheriff, family member, friend, or certified mail. If you cannot locate your spouse, apply for service by publication. Remember to file an Affidavit of Personal Service or acknowledgment of service with the court. The defendant has 20 days to file a response. This is an obligatory part of a divorce process. Failure to file an answer may result in a default judgment where the plaintiff is granted all the terms of the divorce requested in the Complaint.
Wait for your divorce to finalize. South Dakota does not require the plaintiff and the defendant to attend a final hearing but requires a 60-day waiting period. Meanwhile, make sure you filed all the required paperwork. Remember to disclose your financial information. If your county requires you to take a parenting class, submit a Certificate of Completion. If all your divorce documents are in order, the judge will sign a judgment of divorce after the waiting period.
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Filing fees for divorce in Buffalo County
South Dakota has one of the lowest civil court fees in the country. It is $95 for filing for a divorce in Buffalo County. The plaintiff pays it if they can afford the fees. If not, plaintiffs apply for a fee waiver to eliminate all filing and service fees for this particular divorce.
If you apply for a name change in Buffalo County, you will pay $70 in filing fees. Certified copies cost $2 each while standard copies $0.20.
How long will it take?
Since South Dakota has no lengthy residency requirements and a relatively short waiting period, the length of the divorce process in Buffalo County depends on how quickly spouses can negotiate contested issues. An uncontested divorce can usually be finalized pretty quickly. Divorce in Buffalo County can become official after the 60-day mandatory waiting period.
Here is an official timeline for an uncontested divorce in Buffalo County, SD: (1) filing for divorce; (2) waiting 60 days from the date of filing (in the meanwhile the plaintiff serves the defendant and the defendant files the response); (3) getting your divorce finalized as soon as the judge finds time.
Thus, an uncontested divorce in Buffalo County can take longer than two months if the court’s workload is intense and if the parties had not yet handled the divorce-related issues when the 60-day waiting period expired.
Filing for divorce in Buffalo County | Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a divorce cost in Buffalo County? Divorce costs are notoriously high, even in US states with low filing fees, such as South Dakota. Whereas filing for an uncontested divorce in Buffalo County will cost you as little as $95 in court fees, lawyers’ fees will bulk the price. Some sources range the cost of divorce in Buffalo County from $11,000 to $15,000, with a couple having legal representation and mediation. Add the numerous experts a couple may consult to handle custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division, and the cost of a contested Buffalo County divorce may skyrocket past $24,000. The more complicated a divorce gets, the more litigants pay in overhead costs. However, getting a divorce can come cheap for all involved—both financially and emotionally. Sit together with your spouse and settle custody, support, and property division. Amicable agreements drive the price tag on a divorce down significantly.
How to file for divorce in Buffalo County without a lawyer? Buffalo County provides self-help resources and informational support for those litigants who want self-representation. A DIY divorce is an inexpensive and easy way to end a marriage without a lawyer. The South Dakota Unified Judicial System website provides checklists of forms to complete for a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce (with or without children). Meet the divorce requirements and follow the detailed instructions. If you worry that you may make a mistake, OnlineDivorce.com is a divorce document preparation service that helps Buffalo County couples prepare the required paperwork.
What are the required forms for an uncontested divorce in Buffalo County? Checklists can vary from case to case. Sets of divorce forms differ if a couple has minor children and agree on the terms from those who have no children and dispute some issues. However, the primary forms for a Buffalo County divorce without children will include:
Civil Case Filing Statement
Summons (Without Minor Children)
Complaint (Without Minor Children)
Proof of Service of Spouse
Answer without Children
Stipulated Settlement Agreement, notarized
Affidavit of Defendant's Non-Military Status
Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds, notarized, and
Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce
Can I file for legal separation in Buffalo County, SD? Yes, legal separation is acknowledged in South Dakota. Procedurally legal separation in Buffalo County is similar to divorce. It requires the spouses to resolve the issues of custody and support (if they have children together), alimony, and property division and establish separate residencies. However, the spouses remain legally married and cannot remarry until they are formally divorced.
When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce? South Dakota has no provisions for remarriage after a divorce. Any divorcee from Buffalo County can form a new civil union as soon as desired.
Divorce in Buffalo County online
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Here is how OnlineDivorce.com makes completing divorce papers easier:
We provide the full divorce packet required by the local court - clients do not need to drive to their local courthouse to get the blank forms or search for the right divorce forms online. In rare cases, local county forms can vary in color, paper material, size, or bar code, so they may need to be obtained directly from the county clerk's office.
We complete the necessary forms for clients based on their answers given in a simple guided online interview - clients do not need to understand family law or read through complicated instructions to figure out how to fill out the forms themselves.
We give detailed, easy to follow step-by-step instructions for filing a divorce with the court - so the client knows exactly what to do to get his/her divorce finalized.
We provide unlimited technical support - if a client needs assistance through the online process, he/she can always reach out to us via phone, email, or live chat, and we'll do our best to help.
We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.
We guarantee 100% court approval on divorce papers prepared through our website or your money back - we have 20 years of experience in completing divorce forms so clients can be sure the court will accept their documents without issues.
Divorce Courts in Buffalo County, South Dakota
Buffalo County Circuit Court
Hon. Steven R Jensen,Hon. Bruce Anderson,Hon. Timothy Bjorkman,Hon. Glen Eng,Hon. Cheryle Gering,Hon. Patrick Smith,Hon. Gordon Swanson,Hon. Tami Bern
With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including:
prepare, file, and serve (deliver) the divorce petition
respond to the petition
interview and hire an attorney
pre-trial legal motions and hearings
settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys
if settlement fails, prepare for and complete a court trial
appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s)
Prepare to pay exorbitant attorney's fees - at least $2000-3000 depending on your case’s complexity.
Hourly rates vary with different attorneys and average $250-300 per hour. In rural areas, attorneys
may charge less. However, if you live in a large city, local attorneys may charge up to $1000 per hour.
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lack of guidance during the process
hidden fees, e.g., for any, even the simplest, revisions
outdated divorce forms causing court rejection
Did you know that some online divorce providers have virtual addresses in the US because they are
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