Uncontested Divorce in South Dakota
South Dakota accepts two types of divorce, based on the agreements couple can or can’t reach.
- A married couple can file for a contested divorce if spouses can’t resolve some or all terms of dissolution. Such disagreements include marital property disputes, custody issues, spousal support payments, etc. A contested divorce is a longer and more expensive process. Spouses will have to go through many court hearings to settle all disputes and hire lawyers to represent their interests.
- A married couple can file for an uncontested divorce if a couple agrees on grounds to end their marriage and has no disputes regarding marriage-related issues. In South Dakota, uncontested divorce is called stipulated divorce. Since the spouses resolve all matters without the judge’s intervention, uncontested divorces are usually not as lengthy. Moreover, partners can proceed without a lawyer’s help and advice and prepare divorce forms online independently using DivorceOnline.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Partners who cooperate can use online resources like DivorceOnline to complete all the necessary documents for an uncontested divorce in the state.
This easy-to-use tool for selecting and completing paperwork, also called online divorce, works in 2 stages:
- Partners fill out self-guided online questionnaires;
- Partners download court-ready South Dakota divorce papers within 2 business days.
Moreover, each couple gets detailed filing instructions to apply following all local rules.
The service costs $139 with no hidden charges and allows you to fill out documents at your own pace, at any time convenient for you, and without leaving your home.
According to local Family Law, couples need to complete the following minimum set of divorce forms:
- Summons Without Minor Children (UJS-309) or With Minor Children (UJS-311);
- Complaint Without Minor Children (UJS-310) or With Minor Children (UJS-312);
- Financial Affidavit Without Minor Children (UJS-304A) or With Minor Children (UJS-304B);
- Stipulation and Settlement Agreement Without Minor Children (UJS-324) or with Minor Children (UJS 325);
- Affidavit of Plaintiff and Defendant as to Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce (UJS-319A);
- Judgment and Decree of Divorce (UJS-326A).
Couples with children should fill out:
- South Dakota Parenting Guidelines (UJS 302);
- Child Support Filing Data Form (UJS-089).
Steps for Filing a Divorce in South Dakota
South Dakota's divorce process consists of several steps. Knowing them is crucial for properly initiating marriage dissolution and moving through all subsequent stages.
The spouse filing with the court (also called the plaintiff) must be a resident of that state when the complaint is filed to qualify for divorce in South Dakota. If the petitioner is in the military, they must be serving in South Dakota.
The couple can apply for divorce to the local court in the county where either spouse lives. The second party, also known as the respondent, can request to move the case to the county where the responding spouse resides.
Grounds for divorce in South Dakota can be divided into 2 categories:
- Fault-based reasons for divorce;
- No-fault reasons for divorce.
Reasons from the first category indicate that one of the spouses’ misconduct led to the breakup. It can be:
- Cruel treatment, both physical and mental;
- Intentional neglect;
- Willful desertion;
- Habitual drunkenness;
- Conviction of felony during a marriage.
Choosing at-fault reasons, the petitioner must provide evidence.
A no-fault divorce means that neither spouse is blamed for the marriage breakdown. In this case, the couple may get divorced, stating irreconcilable differences.
Spouses will also need to confirm their marriage is broken, answer the judge’s questions, and present proof at the hearing. If there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, the proceedings will be continued for a period not exceeding 30 days.
No-fault divorce requires the consent of both parties, except in cases where one of the spouses doesn’t appear at the hearing. In this case, the judge can grant a default divorce.
South Dakota divorce proceedings begin when the court clerk accepts divorce papers, registers the applicant’s complaint, and issues a case number. The filing spouse should make at least 2 copies of each document.
Divorce Papers in South Dakota
Petitioner can find all the necessary blank forms at South Dakota Unified Judicial System’s forms index. Papers are divided into 2 categories:
- For couples without children;
- For couples with children.
The minimum set of South Dakota divorce forms required to start a case includes:
- Case Filing Statement
- Financial Affidavit
Requirements may vary by couple’s unique circumstances and by county. Therefore, it’s better to double-check everything with the local clerk.
A more convenient alternative to get divorce papers is to use the DivorceOnline service. This platform for an online divorce helps select suitable documents for each particular case fast and fill them out correctly.
Each plaintiff must pay a fee when filing documents with the local courthouse. The filing fee in South Dakota is approximately $95, but it may vary by county.
If the applicant can’t pay filing fees, they can fill out the Motion & Order to Waive Filing Fee & Service of Process Fee (UJS-305) and file it with the county clerk’s office.
If the judge denies the Motion, but the petitioner fails to pay filing fees, the case can be dismissed.
The court can review the divorce case and issue a divorce decree after a 60-day waiting period. It starts from the date when the service on the defendant is completed.
Service is an obligatory part of the South Dakota divorce process. The petitioner must deliver copies of the filed papers to the other spouse. They can do it several ways:
- If divorce is uncontested, the plaintiff can choose personal service and hand-deliver copies;
- The plaintiff can send documents and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the respondent by mail;
- The plaintiff can hire a sheriff or professional process server to serve the defendant.
Acknowledgment of service must be submitted to the court. If the other party wants to respond to the claim, they have 30 days to do it.
If the divorce is uncontested, the spouses must submit the Stipulation and Settlement Agreement to the judge, and after a waiting period, they can get a divorce decree.
Getting a Divorce With Children
Married couples with minor children who want to end their relationship amicably can resolve all issues regarding child custody and child support independently, out of court. Parents can decide on the type of custody, visitation and parenting plan, amount of child support, payment period, and payment method.
If spouses can’t reach an agreement on child-related issues, the court will make all decisions according to local laws and regulations. In awarding sole or joint legal or physical custody, the judge will be guided by what is called the child’s best interests, including factors of material, mental and physical well-being.
Children of sufficient age to reasonably express their preferences (usually 12) may do so, and the judge may consider their wishes when resolving parental disputes. The judge won’t consider marital fault when deciding on child custody unless it affects the child’s further well-being.
South Dakota courts also have the right to assign parenting classes before granting a divorce.
Under South Dakota law, a fair share of parental income and resources must be allocated to a child if parents are divorced. The standard support rules apply in almost every divorce case, except for some extraordinary cases.
Child support is calculated based on both parents’ combined monthly net income. The court can also share the costs of childcare and medical care among the parents. Payments continue until the child turns 18, but the period may be longer in some cases.
Solving all these issues in the courtroom can take quite a lot of time and lead to additional expenses. Moreover, court proceedings don’t contribute to maintaining normal relations between spouses and can negatively affect the emotional state of parents and their children.
That is why many divorcing couples with kids prefer to solve all issues on their own or hire a professional mediator who can help them find the best solution to the problem. As long as the proposed plan meets the child’s best interests, parents can expect court approval.
Filing for Divorce in South Dakota Without a Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer or a law firm is not a prerequisite for a divorce in South Dakota if the spouses don’t have any disputes. Those who resolve issues related to the property division, alimony, child custody, and child support can qualify for an uncontested divorce. Thus, they have an opportunity to proceed without a lawyer.
Divorce without an attorney saves thousands of dollars in legal fees and allows spouses to use the alternative of the cheap online divorce paperwork. Services like DivorceOnline provide east-to-use instruments to independently prepare all the necessary forms without any legal assistance and any legal background.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in South Dakota
By choosing an uncontested divorce, spouses can use the DIY approach. This way, they can optimize their expenses and reduce the time needed to prepare for the divorce.
For example, when hiring an attorney to complete documents for an uncontested divorce, spouses will have to wait approximately 1-2 weeks. However, with a do-it-yourself divorce, they can complete all the forms themselves using DivorceOnline and download completed divorce forms within 2 business days.
What’s more, DivorceOnline costs just $139, meaning that uncontested divorce can be $139 plus court filing fees. With the services of a lawyer, the cost of an uncontested divorce can be as high as $5,000.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The minimum timeframe for an uncontested divorce in South Dakota is 2 months (60 days). Complex contested divorce cases can take a year or more to resolve. The time for reviewing the case also depends on the court’s workload, which may delay the final judgment.
South Dakota has one of the smallest divorce filing fees - $95. Preparation of documents using DivorceOnline will cost $139. It means that an uncontested divorce without a lawyer can cost up to $300.
However, if the couple decides to hire a lawyer, they should be prepared to pay between $115 and $250 per hour.
Spouses in financial hardship can request fee and service waivers. Once they file the appropriate motions and provide financial proof, the judge will review the matter and decide on fee cancelation.
The list of required documents may vary, but the basic set for an uncontested divorce includes:
- Case Filing Statement;
- Financial Affidavit;
- Stipulation and Settlement Agreement;
- Affidavit of Plaintiff and Defendant as to Jurisdiction and Grounds for Divorce;
- Judgment and Decree of Divorce.
Couples with children should prepare additional documents.
For more details on South Dakota divorce forms and the filing process instructions, visit the local Judicial System website or contact your court clerk. However, the fastest, most convenient, and inexpensive option is to complete divorce documents via DivorceOnline. Using this online divorce service, spouses don’t need to go anywhere. Instead, they can select and fill out papers without leaving their home at a bargain price.