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South Dakota Child Custody Factors

In South Dakota, a visitation agreement other than the standard visitation guidelines shall be in writing, signed by both parties and filed with the court. Any agreed plan, other than the standard plan, shall be approved by court order and replace the standard guidelines or any plan previously filed.

The court will make every effort to make a custody award that is best for the children. In making the award, the court will consider the following;

marital misconduct only if it is relevant to the further well being of the child;

the child wishes depending on age and maturity;

and the expressed desires of the parents.

The court will not discriminate based on the parents gender. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-3-11, 25-4-25, 25-4-45.1, 25-5-7)

In South Dakota, as with all other states, the court will always be looking out for the best interests of the children. What you want or your spouse wants is not really relevant until the court says it is. Many parents go to custody hearings not realizing that they must portray themselves as the best custodial parent rather pleading to the court that they simply deserve the children. The court would much prefer the parents to decide who should have custody, but if they canít, the court will do it for them. You can also read more about South Dakota child custody in the South Dakota state statutes located at: http://legis.state.sd.us/.