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Divorce Law in South Dakota

How to Find a South Dakota Divorce Attorney

Right now approximately 5,372 of your fellow South Dakota residents are going through what you’re going through. How do we now that? In 2009, 2,686 divorces were finalized in South Dakota. It’s about the same each year.

All 5,372 of you, plus all those thinking of divorce or just starting the process, are likely filled with hope and fear, anger and peace, questions and answers. If this sounds like all the thoughts swirling around in your head, this article was written for you.

Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.

~Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

In this article (which is based upon South Dakota divorce law), we’ll discuss:

  • South Dakota specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire a South Dakota divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find one and how to prepare to work with him or her.

South Dakota Divorce Law Specifics

  • South Dakota laws mandates residency prior to filing for divorce.
  • Divorce grounds must be cited: “no-fault” or “fault”.
  • South Dakota uses the terms, “plaintiff” and “defendant” to describe, first, the spouse who initially filed the divorce papers, and, second, the other spouse.
  • In South Dakota, divorce papers are filed in the county Circuit Court.
  • In some cases, alimony is available.
  • In South Dakota property distribution will be based upon what’s “equitable” (i.e. fair) and child support will be based upon the Income Shares Model.

What You Need to Know About Divorce

In this section, we’ll highlight the aspects of divorce that will help you this most.

  • Always think, “compromise, collaboration, communication, and cooperation”.

We understand if your initial reaction was to snort or roll your eyes at this advice.

However, if you follow our advice, you will:

  • Keep legal fees to a minimum.
  • Make the divorce easier on yourself and your children.
  • Have less stress.
  • Likely get more money, time with your children, and whatever ever else you want in the divorce.
  • Only hire a divorce attorney who is willing to work collaboratively. An attorney who angers your spouse (or you) will push you into court.
  • Avoid court interference.

If you and your spouse can’t work out a settlement agreement with the help of your lawyers, you’ll have to go to court.

  • This means that the court takes over and determines who gets what and how custody is handled. You lose control and your court costs and fees will skyrocket.
  • To give vent now and then to his feelings, whether of pleasure or discontent, is a great ease to a man’s heart.В  ~Francesco Guicciardini

A qualified therapist is best suited to help you handle the emotional aspects of divorce. Don’t attempt to use your children or your lawyer as a sounding board or therapist.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a South Dakota Divorce Lawyer?

Legally, you are able to represent yourself during a South Dakota divorce; in practicality, it’s likely against your best interests and those of your children.

  • After all, if you give up any marital rights during divorce, you will be forever barred from asserting them in South Dakota courts.
  • And what will one mistake cost you?

Even South Dakota attorneys, who go through divorce, hire their own divorce attorneys. One mistake may cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and time with your children.

How to Find and Select a South Dakota Divorce Attorney

To find a qualified lawyer, ask loved ones for referrals and enter “How to Find a South Dakota Divorce Attorney” into Google or your favorite search engine.

It’s important to narrow down the results to an attorney that you’re comfortable with so be sure to interview several attorneys before you make your selection.

  • Always ask whatever questions you have about fees, process, what to expect, communications, and timing.
  • It’s always okay to ask about the attorney’s approach to divorce negotiations. Select an attorney who emphasizes compromise and collaboration.

This doesn’t mean that your attorney is passive or is scared to go to court; it just means that court is viewed as the last resort, not the first option.

  • The final decision should be based upon your comfort level with attorneys you interview.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

Here is a checklist that will help you to prepare to work with your attorney:

  • Say, “When I compromise, I win” 3 times, every morning when you wake up and each evening before bed.

By the way, “compromise” doesn’t mean giving your spouse everything; it means, “If you get this, I get this”.

  • Consider reconciliation. It’s okay to wait to file divorce; if you feel the same way in 6 months you can always file then.
  • Consult with a therapist or psychologist, who specializes in helping people going through divorce.
  • Make a “wish list” of everything you would like in the divorce (e.g. property division, spousal support, living arrangements, and child related matters) and indicate which items are your top priorities and which items can be compromised.
  • Make a list of questions and concerns to address with your divorce attorney at your meeting.
  • Gather financial and legal documents such as marital agreements, life insurance policies, tax returns, investment account statements, bills, expenses, and income.

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.

~Jonatan Martensson

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