Divorce papers in South Dakota — filing for divorce in SD

Online divorce in South Dakota

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How to get divorce in South Dakota

The information below will help the interested person understand more about the divorce in South Dakota.

The common steps of how to get divorce in South Dakota:


Divorce is a legal process and in order to obtain divorce, the marriage must be recognized by South Dakota law.


Spouses must comply with the conditions of the state of residence, and it is not necessary that both spouses are residents of South Dakota. Only the Plaintiff (the spouse who is suing) must live in the state. If a couple has underage children and they are residents of another state, then the Plaintiff does not have the right to claim custody, based on the legislation of South Dakota. If the Respondent (a spouse who does not file a claim) owns property in another state, then it can not be divided during divorce based on the legislation of South Dakota.


Spouses should have grounds for divorce. South Dakota gives the right to receive both fault and no-fault divorce, but in the case of a fault divorce, the Plaintiff will have to prove the fault of his or her spouse in court.


It is possible to get an uncontested divorce. It is possible in case when spouses discussed all the divisive issues of divorce and came to a decision that they signed documented. If the spouses can make compromises, the divorce will be granted 60 days after the petition is submitted to the court. Along with the petition, the interested person also needs to file a written agreement, which the couple has about the key moments of the divorce. If the spouses can not agree and the only decision remains the court hearings, where the judge will decide on the disputes, then the divorce will be called the contested divorce in South Dakota.


Regardless of the type of divorce, all couples passing through the dissolution of marriage need to fill out the divorce form documents.


Completed divorce form documents need to be brought to court. After that, the interested person is obliged to notify his or her spouse about the beginning of the divorce proceedings, in simple terms, to transfer to him or her copies of the papers, this is also called the serving of the spouse.


After the spouse is informed, the court will set a waiting period of 60 days. If the divorce is uncontested, then the divorce will be granted in 60 days after the application is filed with the court, provided that all the papers are filed correctly. If the divorce is contested, after 60 days the court will set the date of the first hearing regarding to the case.


It is required to be a bona fide resident of the state and reside in South Dakota at the time of applying to the court and throughout the entire trial until a divorce is finally granted.

If the interested person spouse is not a resident of South Dakota, the interested person can still file a divorce petition in South Dakota, but keep in mind that if the minor children live with the spouse (children are not residents of South Dakota), he or she will not be able to claim custodial rights.

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Valid grounds to get divorce in South Dakota

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The grounds for divorce in South Dakota may be as follows:


  • Irreconcilable differences between the spouses. However, in such a case the judge believes that there is an opportunity for reconciliation and suspends the process of divorce for 30 days so that the couple can settle the differences and come to terms.


  • If the spouse has committed sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex, who is not his or her legal spouse;
  • If the spouse voluntarily left the family with the intention to leave the country;
  • If the spouse has drugs or alcohol dependence;
  • If the spouse committed a crime and was convicted for this;
  • If the spouse has committed acts of violence or cruel behavior towards members of his or her family;
  • If the spouse deliberately degrades his or her partner;

Please note that if South Dakota divorce papers indicate the fault reason for the divorce, then the interested person will have to provide irrefutable evidence of the wrongful actions of the spouse.

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Custody of the child in South Dakota

Custody of the child

The distribution of custody of minor children is one of the most important issues that parents should pass in a divorce in South Dakota. The court always stands on the side of the child and is guided by his or her best interests. If the parents are in complicated relationships, the court may appoint a third person who will be responsible for raising the child to help the parents resolve all the differences. Similarly, the court can take into account the wishes of the child regarding his or her main residence, if the court is satisfied that the child can reasonably and logically think.

If the parent is guilty of acts of violence or cruel treatment towards members of his or her family, the court may not allow him or her the right to be a custodian and curtail the hours of child attendance. If the parent is guilty of the death of his or her spouse, the court will appoint a third person as the main custodian.

If both spouses do not suffer from dementia and do not have physical inferiority, then the court assumes that both parents are able to work so that they earn at least a minimum wage to support their minor children after the divorce. The amount of financial support for children is calculated on the basis of the monthly income of parents, as well as the number of children in the family.

Uncontested South Dakota divorce with children
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Rules for spousal support in South Dakota

Rules for spousal support

With a divorce in South Dakota, any spouse may require financial support (alimony) from his or her partner.

If the court is convinced that the requesting spouse is a position that he or she is unable to provide for himself / herself, then he or she will be award the amount of monthly financial support that can last for the period of time established by the court or be permanent (until the end of life of one of the spouses or until the spouse-recipient remarries).

The size and duration of alimony will depend on the complexity of the financial situation of the requesting spouse.

Property division in South Dakota

Property division

If the spouses have a common property, then they must divide it in a divorce. South Dakota adheres to the rule that all property should be distributed fairly and equitable. The common property means any movable or immovable property that has passed into the possession of the spouses when they were already in the marriage.

If the spouse become the owner of the property that has been transferred to them by giving or inheriting, then this property is considered separate and will belong to that of the spouses who was its owner at the moment when it passed into his or her ownership. Also, to the separate property belongs property that was acquired before marriage. If during the marriage one of the spouses contributed to increase the value of the property that was acquired by his or her spouse before marriage, this property will also be considered common and must be divided.

The property is divided into all movable and immovable property owned by a couple, including assets and debt obligations. Note that if the spouses own any property that is outside of South Dakota, then it can not be divided in the divorce process in accordance with South Dakota law.

Divorce without a lawyer in South Dakota

It is possible to get the divorce the services of a lawyer. Cases when a divorce is made without the participation of a lawyer are called Pro Se Divorce. Depending on which county the interested person lives, the process of divorce in the state of South Dakota can vary. Nevertheless, a divorce without the participation of a lawyer is completely legal and is subject to execution in any state. If the spouses have come to the agreement of a division of property and custody of children, then it is very convenient to initiate the Pro Se Divorce.

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Mediation support in South Dakota

If the couple files for divorce on the basis of a no-fault grounds, then the court has the right to appoint counseling sessions to reconcile the spouses. In this case, the divorce will be postponed for 30 days.

Divorce forms in South Dakota

All existing forms can be found on the website of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. The most common papers are ‘Complaint (with or without children)’, the ‘Financial Affidavit’ and the ‘Summons’.

Uncontested divorce in South Dakota

Uncontested divorce in South Dakota

The couple has no disagreements and formalized their agreement documentarily, therefore the spouses are not required to go through court hearings. In order to apply for uncontested divorce, the spouses must decide on the following circumstances:

  • Custody of common minor children, visiting hours, parental plan;
  • The amount of financial support for underage children, as well as the amount of medical insurance and services for the dentist, other cash costs;
  • How the spouses want to divide common property, including debts;
  • If one of the spouses claims, the amount of alimony and the payment period;
  • The reason for the divorce;
  • Other key issues that may arise in the process of divorce;

If the spouses have at least one unresolved dispute and can not come to a compromise, then the divorce will be called contested, so the couple will have to go through litigation and take out all their dirty whites for the review of the court. This will lead to the fact that the cost of divorce will grow and the decision can be delayed.

If the spouses are willing to compromise and cooperate in getting a divorce so as not to turn their life into a drama, they can formalize an uncontested divorce in South Dakota, provided that the couple meets the state's requirements for living. South Dakota law requires that at least one spouse be domiciled in the state, that is, reside in South Dakota for at least 1 day and has a clear intention to make South Dakota the place of his or her permanent residence. The main papers for an uncontested divorce in South Dakota are:

  • Summons signed by Plaintiff’.
  • Complaint signed by Plaintiff’.
  • Proof of Service of Spouse’ (admission of service or sheriff's return of service).
  • Stipulated Agreement’ signed by both spouses before a not public.
  • Affidavit of Defendant's Non-Military Status’.
  • Affidavit of Jurisdiction and Grounds’ (SDCL Section 25-4-17.3) signed by the plaintiff and notarized.
  • Proposed Final Judgment’ or ‘Decree of Divorce’.

After the interested person filed the South Dakota divorce papers and the court was convinced of their correctness, he or she must wait 60 days for the judge to grant a divorce. In this case, the interested person will not need to attend court hearings. If the interested person filed papers as needed, after 60 days the court will provide a final divorce.

How to serve divorce papers in South Dakota

The interested party have to send his or her spouse a copies so that he or she learns about the commencement of the divorce proceedings and has had the opportunity to file a counterclaim.

South Dakota law allows you to do this in the following ways:

  • Send documents via certified mail to the spouse. 
  • Use the services of the sheriff. The client will be charged for the work of the sheriff. The sheriff makes only 1 attempt to deliver the documents. 
  • Private process server - a more reliable and expensive way of serving. 
  • If the interested person want to get an uncontested divorce, he or she do not need to transfer the documents to the spouse, since they filed the papers together in court. 
  • The court will set a waiting period of 60 days, regardless of the type of the divorce.

If you want to get an uncontested divorce, you do not need to transfer the documents to the spouse, since you filed the papers together in court.
When you served a spouse, the court will set a waiting period of 60 days, regardless of the type of your divorce.

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Filing fees for divorce in South Dakota

Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using OnlineDivorce.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.