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South Dakota Property Division Factors

In South Dakota, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the Circuit Court within the Decree of Divorce.

South Dakota is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Circuit Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the Circuit Court to be fair.

The following factors will be considered by the court when making a property award upon divorce; the contribution each spouse had to the acquisition of the marital property; the value of each spouses separate property; the amount of time the spouse have been married; the age and health condition of each spouse; the current and future earning capacity of each spouse; and the value of the property being distribution as well as the income potential of that property.

Fault shall not be taken into account with regard to the awarding of property, except as it may be relevant to the acquisition of property during the marriage. (South Dakota Laws - Volume 9A - Title 25 - Chapters: 25-4-44, 25-4-45)

Since South Dakota is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about South Dakota property division in the South Dakota state statutes located at: http://legis.state.sd.us/.