Christopherson, Anderson Paulson & Fideler, LLP Attorneys at Law Christopherson, Anderson Paulson & Fideler, LLP Attorneys at Law
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How does child custody work in South Dakota?

When preparing to go through the divorce process, parents in South Dakota may have a lot of questions regarding how their split will affect their time with their children. Will one parent get the kids full time? Will you and your soon-to-be ex be able to work out a joint custody agreement? Every case is different. What works for one family may not work for another.

There are specific child custody guidelines offered by the state. Anymore, though, courts are willing to accept all sorts of custody arrangements and parenting plans -- as long as they serve the best interests of the affected children.

Child custody basics

There are two basic forms of child custody recognized by the state: sole and joint. Sole custody means the children will reside with one parent full time. The non-custodial parent may or may not receive visitation rights -- it all depends on the reasoning for the awarding of sole custody. Visitation rights may not go to a parent who has certain addictions or violent tendencies.

Joint custody is where both parents share time with their children. It may not be a perfect 50/50 split, but it is usually pretty close. At some point, children will get to have a say regarding who they want to live with, even if a joint custody arrangement is in place.

Joint custody options

Parents who desire joint custody have a lot of options for making it work. In a traditional joint custody agreement, children move between their parents' homes. Sometimes, these trade-offs occur several days of the week. Sometimes, there are longer stretches in-between the time each parent gets to see their children -- weeks or even months.

There are new modern methods to make joint custody agreements easier on children. Bird nesting, for example, involves children remaining in the marital home and parents moving in and out for the scheduled time. It is a big adjustment for parents and is not without its issues, but it offers stability for children.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all child custody agreement that works for everyone. There are options out there so that you can make the situation fit your family's needs. With the assistance of legal counsel, you can fight for a child custody agreement that you feel is fair and best serves your children.

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Sioux Falls, SD 57104

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