Divorce can involve many issues, and is a stressful and often painful life event.
POWELL LAW OFFICE understands that clients going through a divorce are
vulnerable to the emotional issues involved in almost every divorce.  

Phone lines are available during non-business hours to accommodate your
needs.   POWELL LAW OFFICE can help you.  Call  605-280-9521 to discuss your
case at a time convenient for YOU!  You will not be billed for initial consultations.

Call:  605-280-9521      AFTER HOURS CALLS WELCOMED

POWELL LAW OFFICE applies energy, experience, and resourcefulness to each
and every client, and is dedicated to the affordable and professional conclusion
of your case.  

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Every divorce is different because every person's
circumstances are different.  The following information is intended to give a brief
outline of divorce law in South Dakota.  Legal advice on how the law may be
applied to your particular case, however, can only be given by a licensed
attorney.  Therefore, the basic information provided on this site is not intended
as legal advice in your particular situation.  You should consult with an attorney
about your individual circumstances.    

POWELL LAW OFFICE provides professional legal services, and
pledge to treat each and every client with respect, care and
professional service.  

Divorce Topics:  Scroll down.

Grounds for Divorce
Residency requirements
Child Custody and Visitation
Child Support
Property Division
Agreement of the Parties
Divorce, Custody & Child Support when spouse is out-of-state
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

You need "grounds" to obtain a divorce.  There are 7 possible grounds that you
can assert in a divorce Complaint:
1.  Adultery;
2.  Extreme cruelty (physical or mental);
3.  Willful desertion;
4.  Willful neglect;
5.  Habitual intemperance (drug and/or alcohol abuse);
6.  Conviction of a felony;
7.  Irreconcilable differences (no-fault) requires consent of both spouses.

Residency requirements.  The Plaintiff (filing spouse) must be a resident of
South Dakota at the time the divorce action is commenced, and, must remain as
a South Dakota resident until the Decree and Judgment of Divorce is entered by
a South Dakota Circuit Court Judge.  The Defendant, or non-filing spouse, does
not have to be a South Dakota resident.  The action can be filed in the county of
residence of either party, but the Defendant has a right to have the case heard in
the County where he or she resides if he or she is a resident of South Dakota.

Child Custody and Visitation.  The Court may decide temporary or permanent
custody issues either before or after a Divorce Decree is entered.  The South
Dakota Supreme Court has established written visitation guidelines for use in
divorce and custody cases.  Visitation rights, however, are not automatic.  The
South Dakota Visitation Guidelines themselves are not a legally enforceable
document standing alone.  They must be incorporated as part of a court order
called a Divorce Decree or other court order.  The South Dakota Child Visitation
Guidelines can be viewed and printed from: ww.sdjudicial.com under the Public
Information icon.

Child Support.  Support obligations are calculated according to a computation
schedule found in the state's legal code, and is  based primarily upon the
income of each parent.  Other factors are also considered, such as (1) which
parent is the primary caretaker of the children, (2) who pays for health
insurance, (3) who gets the income tax deduction,  and other factors in the case
as a whole.  

Property Division.  The Courts are required to make an equitable division of
marital property, but this does not mean that all assets will automatically, or are
required to be divided 50/50.  There is no mathematical formula.  There are
numerous factors which may, and often do, allow the Court to award one party a
greater percentage of assets over the other.  Some of these factors are:

(1)  Duration of the marriage;
(2)  Value of the property;
(3)  Age and health of the parties;
(4) Each party's ability to earn a separate income;
(5)  Individual contributions to the accumulation of the property;
(6)   Income producing ability of each party.

Fault for the breakup of the marriage is NOT a factor in determining property
division, unless, the actions of the offending party have materially contributed to
dissipation or waste of assets.

Alimony.  Alimony is the payment of money directly to a  former spouse for his
or her support, and is considered together with the property settlement.  South
Dakota recognizes three different types of alimony:  

(1)  Permanent;
(2)  Reimbursement; or
(3)  Rehabilitative.

Alimony can be set for a specific period of time, or, until the remarriage of the
receiving spouse, or,  until work force rehabilitation is accomplished, or,  until
the death of either spouse.  Alimony, if originally awarded, may be increased or
decreased, either by agreement of the parties or by Court order later on.  
Alimony cannot be awarded after the divorce if it is not awarded in the divorce

Agreement of the Parties.  The parties to a divorce or custody action can agree
to grounds for divorce, the terms of property division, custody, alimony, and
child support.  The Courts will approve these agreements if there is no obvious
overreaching on the part of one party over the other.  In the case of child
support, the rights of the child will be protected by the Court.  Child support,
after all, belongs to the child or children, not either spouse.

Divorce, custody and child support if spouse or children are in another state.  
Your spouse does not have to reside in South Dakota for a South Dakota court
to grant a divorce (or custody if you have a child living in South Dakota).   If a
child or children have resided outside South Dakota for more than 6 months,
then the state in which they reside has jurisdiction over custody and child
support.   An attorney licensed in the other state is needed to obtain a court
order from that state.   Once you have a court order in the other state, you can
enforce that order by filing notice of a foreign judgment in South Dakota.  
Enforcing court orders from another state in South Dakota can be done by a
South Dakota licensed attorney.

Contested vs. Uncontested (no-fault) Divorce.
An uncontested divorce means that both parties are in complete agreement on
all of these issues, and are willing and available to sign a Settlement Agreement.  
Grounds for an uncontested divorce is usually "irreconcilable differences,"
which requires consent of both spouses.

A contested divorce means that your spouse does not agree to the terms of any,
or any one or more of issues in your case such as custody, visitation, or
property division.  In that case, the disagreement must be negotiated, or, be
heard at trial or hearing to determine the rights of the parties in a court of law.
Joan Elayne Powell
Attorney at Law
Offices in Pierre and Gettysburg, South Dakota
Tel:  605-280-9521
Fax:  605-765-2308
Email:  Powell@sdcountrylawyer.com
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