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Navigating Child Support in South Dakota: Laws Requirements and More

South Dakota Child Support Laws, Requirements, and Fees

When parents get divorced or separated, child support often becomes a matter of concern. To ensure that the children’s financial needs are met, parents can apply for child support in South Dakota.

In this section, we will discuss the requirements and fees associated with applying for child support. The South Dakota Department of Social Services’ Division of Child Support (DCS) handles child support cases in the state.

To apply for child support, the parent must fill out an application form available on the DCS website. The form requires both parents’ information, including their Social Security numbers, employment details, and income.

Additionally, the form will ask for the child’s birthdate, address, and custody arrangement.

Once the application is submitted, the non-custodial parent will be located and served with a notice of an impending child support obligation.

The non-custodial parent must respond to the notice and provide their employment and income information within 20 days. The DCS will then calculate the child support amount based on the parents’ incomes and the child’s needs.

The fee for applying for child support in South Dakota is $25. However, the fee may be waived for parents who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid benefits.

The fee is often deducted from the first payment made by the non-custodial parent. Non-Custodial Parent’s Responsibilities in South Dakota

After the court orders a non-custodial parent to pay child support, the parent has both financial and emotional responsibilities towards their child.

The parent needs to provide financial support to the child by paying the ordered amount of child support in full and on time. It is important to remember that child support is not optional, and failure to pay can result in legal action and penalties.

In addition, non-custodial parents should take an active role in their child’s life and emotional wellbeing. This includes supporting the child’s educational and extracurricular activities, attending parent-teacher meetings, and ensuring their emotional needs are met.

Non-custodial parents can benefit from utilizing child welfare facilities, such as parenting classes and support groups, to improve their relationship with the child.

Eligibility for DCS Services in South Dakota

To be eligible for DCS services, parents must be receiving or have applied for TANF, Medicaid, or Title IV-E foster care assistance. Additionally, the DCS may open a child support case at the request of a custodial parent who is not receiving such assistance.

Establishing Paternity in South Dakota

Paternity refers to the legal recognition of a child’s father. Establishing paternity can be voluntary or involuntary and is an important step in legal and social recognition of the father’s rights and responsibilities towards the child.

Voluntary Establishment of Paternity

The easiest way to establish paternity is by completing a paternity affidavit form immediately after the child is born. This can be done at the hospital or in front of a notary public.

By signing this form, the child’s biological father acknowledges paternity and agrees to be legally responsible for the child’s financial support.

Involuntary Establishment

When the father denies paternity or fails to complete the paternity affidavit form, the custodial parent or the DCS can initiate legal action to establish paternity. This usually involves filing a petition to establish paternity with the court.

The court may order the alleged father and child to undergo DNA testing to confirm paternity. If the test shows that the alleged father is the biological father, the court will establish paternity and order the father to pay child support.

Important Considerations

In South Dakota, a paternity denial form can be signed within 60 days of the paternity affidavit form’s execution. After this time elapses, the denial becomes permanent.

It is important to obtain a paternity affidavit form and complete it as early as possible to avoid any adverse effects on the child’s long-term welfare.


Establishing paternity and getting child support can be complex and emotionally draining processes. Seeking legal assistance from a qualified attorney can help parents navigate the legal system and ensure that the child’s needs are met.

By following South Dakota child support laws and guidelines, parents can provide the financial and emotional support their child requires to grow and thrive.

Determining Child Support in South Dakota through the Income Shares Method

When determining child support in South Dakota, courts use the Income Shares Method. This method takes into account the income of both parent and the child’s needs based on a predetermined economic table.

In this section, we will delve into the income shares method, calculation options, and considerations for child support awards.

The Income Shares Method

The Income Shares Method’s purpose is to ensure that children can enjoy the same material standard of living that they had when their parents were together. The income shares method involves calculating each parent’s gross income and combining them to create a total income.

Then, using a schedule of basic obligation factors based on the number of children involved, the court determines the amount needed for the child’s support.

Calculation Options

In South Dakota, there are two calculation options available for determining child support: the DSS child support calculator and the Dakota child support worksheets. Both options take into account the parents’ gross income and other relevant factors, such as the number of children involved, health insurance costs, and child care expenses.

The DSS child support calculator is available on the Department of Social Services website. This tool simplifies the child support calculation process by using the same formula as the Income Shares Method.

Parents enter their gross income and other relevant financial information into the calculator, which produces an estimate of the child support owed. The Dakota child support worksheets are a more comprehensive option that courts often use when the parents have complex financial situations.

These worksheets require detailed financial information on both parents, including paycheck stubs, tax returns, and other financial documents. A family court attorney can help parents prepare these worksheets correctly and determine the appropriate child support amount.

Considerations for Child Support Awards

Several factors affect child support awards, including the parents’ gross income, number of children involved, and the parenting time split between parents. South Dakota courts also consider other factors when making child support awards in split custody cases, imputing income, and determining gross income.

Split Custody Cases

In cases of split custody, where children spend significant time living with each parent, the court determines the amount of child support for each child separately. Each parent’s support obligation is based on their respective income and the number of children living with them.

Gross Income

Gross income is an essential factor in determining child support. It includes income from all sources, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and tips.

Gross income also includes self-employment income, rental income, interest and dividends, and all other forms of income. Child support payments from previous relationships are also added to the gross income.

Imputed Income

The court may impute income if it determines that a parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed. Imputed income is an estimate of the parent’s earning capacity based on their education, work history, and overall employment potential.

In these cases, child support is calculated based on the imputed income rather than the actual income.

Grounds for Deviation from South Dakota Child Support Laws

In some cases, courts may deviate from the standard child support calculation to ensure fairness and meet the child’s specific needs. In this section, we will discuss the situations that prompt deviation and the process for seeking deviation in South Dakota.

Situation Prompting Deviation

The court may deviate from the standard child support calculation if there are specific cases that warrant it. These cases include situations where the parents have higher-income levels, or where the child’s financial needs go beyond the standard calculation.

Additionally, if one parent’s childcare or medical bills are significantly higher than the other, the court may adjust the child support amount.

Detailed Explanation by Judge

When a judge grants a deviation from the standard child support calculation in South Dakota, they must provide a detailed explanation of their decision. A family court attorney can help parents navigate the legal process of seeking deviation and ensure that the court receives all relevant information to decide fairly.


In South Dakota, the income shares method provides a fair and standardized way to determine child support payments. However, the calculation turns out to be more complex in cases where parents have complex financial situations or when children have unique needs.

The court may deviate from the standard child support calculation to ensure fairness and meet the child’s specific needs. Seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney can help parents navigate the legal system and ensure that their child’s needs are met.

Modifying Child Support in South Dakota:

Filing for Modification

Sometimes, circumstances change, and child support payments are no longer feasible or sustainable. When this happens, parents can file for a modification of child support in South Dakota.

In this section, we will discuss the process of filing a petition for modification, the requirements and limitations, and the general process for modifying child support.

Filing for Modification

To modify child support in South Dakota, parents can file a petition for modification form with the Clerk of Court in the county where the child support order was established. The form requires detailed information about both parents, including their addresses, incomes, and the reason for the modification request.

A filing fee is associated with filing a petition for modification, and the amount may vary from county to county. If the petitioning parent cannot afford the fee, they may request a waiver based on their financial circumstances.

Requirements and Limitations

The petition for modification form must be printed on legal-sized paper and include an original signature. Additionally, both parents must receive a copy of the petition once it has been filed.

If the non-petitioning parent objects to the proposed changes, they can file a counter-petition. It is important to note that a child support order cannot be modified until three years after the initial order.

However, if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a job loss, the parent can request a modification before the three years have passed. Additionally, parents can only request modifications once every two years unless there is an extraordinary circumstance.

General Process

Once the petition for modification has been filed, a date for the hearing will be set. The Department of Social Services (DSS) will provide a petition for modification worksheet to both parents, which helps to calculate the income and expenses of each parent.

A referee will review the worksheets and make recommendations to the court. The parents may agree to the referee’s recommendations, or they can choose to contest them.

If the parents cannot agree, the case will go to the judge, who will listen to both sides and make the final decision. Once the judge decides on the modification, a new child support order will be issued.

Enforcing Child Support Orders in South Dakota

Enforcing child support orders is an essential part of ensuring that children receive the financial support they require. In South Dakota, there are various enforcement actions in place to ensure that child support payments are received in full and on time.

Enforcement Actions

Income withholding, or garnishing wages from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck, is a common enforcement action in South Dakota. This method ensures that the child support payment is automatically taken out of the non-custodial parent’s paycheck to prevent missed payments.

Credit bureau reporting is another enforcement action that can negatively impact the non-custodial parent’s credit score if they fail to make their child support payments. The state can also suspend the non-custodial parent’s driver’s, professional, and recreational licenses to ensure compliance with the child support order.

Contempt of Court

If a non-custodial parent fails to make their child support payments, they can be found in contempt of court. This is considered willful non-payment of child support and can result in a show cause hearing and court order for payment or modification.

In some cases, the court may require the non-custodial parent to agree to a modification or payment plan to bring their payments up to date.

Criminal Non-Payment

Failure to pay child support can also be a criminal offense in South Dakota. If a parent willfully fails to pay child support for more than six months or in excess of $5,000, they can be charged with criminal non-payment of child support.

This can result in jail time or a fine and interest added to the arrears. Out-of-state evasion is another criminal non-payment offense that occurs when parents move out-of-state to avoid paying child support.

In these cases, the Division of Child Support Enforcement works with other states to ensure the non-custodial parent meets their financial obligations.


Enforcing child support orders and seeking modification can be challenging and emotionally taxing processes for parents. Having legal assistance from a qualified attorney can help parents navigate the legal system and ensures that their child’s needs are met.

By following South Dakota child support laws and guidelines, parents can provide the financial support their child requires to grow and thrive. Ending Child Support Obligation in South Dakota:

Age Limitations and

Emancipation Options

Child support obligations in South Dakota typically end when the child reaches a certain age or achieves independence.

In this section, we will delve into the age limitations for child support, emancipation options, and limits on coverage for child support.

Age Limitations

In South Dakota, child support obligations usually continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If the child has a disability that requires ongoing support, child support may continue beyond the age of 18.

However, it is essential to consult with a legal professional to determine the specific details and requirements in each case.

Emancipation Options

Emancipation refers to the legal process that allows a minor to become independent of their parents and assume adult responsibilities. In South Dakota, emancipation occurs automatically when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as disability.

However, there are also emancipation options available for minors who wish to become independent before reaching the age of 18. Under South Dakota law, a minor who is at least 16 years old may petition the court for emancipation.

The minor must demonstrate that they are financially self-sufficient, have a legal source of income, and are capable of independent living. Additionally, the minor must provide a compelling reason for seeking emancipation, such as an abusive or neglectful home environment.

The court will carefully consider the minor’s situation before granting emancipation. It is important to note that emancipation does not automatically terminate child support obligations, and the court will determine whether to continue or modify child support based on the circumstances.

Limits on Coverage

While child support obligations cover the essential needs of the child, there are limitations to what child support can be used for in South Dakota. Child support does not typically cover expenses related to higher education, such as tuition fees or living expenses.

These expenses are generally the responsibility of the parent or the child themselves. However, parents can agree to contribute to higher education expenses through a payment plan or other arrangements.

It is important to establish clear communication and discuss financial arrangements with the former partner regarding higher education expenses. Developing a mutually agreeable plan can ensure that the child’s educational needs are met and mitigate any potential conflicts between the parents.


Understanding the age limitations for child support, emancipation options, and the limits on coverage in South Dakota is crucial for both custodial and non-custodial parents. Child support obligations typically end when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, although there may be exceptions for children with disabilities.

Emancipation options are available for minors who wish to become independent before reaching the age of 18, but the court will carefully consider the circumstances before granting emancipation. It is important to note that child support obligations do not typically cover higher education expenses, and parents should establish clear communication to address these expenses effectively.

Seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney can provide further guidance and assistance in navigating the complexities of ending child support obligations in South Dakota. In South Dakota, understanding the process of child support is crucial for parents navigating divorce or separation.

By familiarizing themselves with the child support laws and requirements, parents can ensure the financial and emotional well-being of their children. This article has provided comprehensive information on various aspects, including applying for child support, establishing paternity, determining child support payments, modifying support orders, enforcing orders, and ending child support obligations.

It is essential for parents to be aware of their rights and responsibilities throughout the child support journey, seeking legal guidance if necessary. By prioritizing the best interests of the children and maintaining open communication, parents can navigate the system successfully and provide the support their children need to thrive.

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