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South Dakota Court Decisions

South Dakota Family Law and Divorce Attorneys

Below are some case summaries that may be of interest to our potential and current South Dakota clients. For more information on these cases or your family situation, contact our attorneys at the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., today by calling 800-613-7989 ext. 213.


Marital assets in South Dakota. The South Dakota Supreme Court held that inherited property separated from the couple's marital property for many years was a marital asset. Inherited property, although always kept separate, was included in the marital assets because one spouse contributed to the upkeep and management of the inherited property through his farming and work for the family. Halbersma v. Halbersma, 738 N.W.2d 545, (S.D. 2007).


South Dakota child support determined by child's actual needs. The South Dakota Supreme Court recently determined the standard for child support in cases where parents made more than $10,000 per month. The standard for determining child support is the child's actual needs and the standard of living when the parents' income is higher than what is provided in the state's child support schedule. McKittrick v. McKittrick, 732 N.W.2d 404 (S.D. 2007).


Child support agreements in South Dakota. Two parents made an agreement that they would not seek child support for the child in their care. The court found that parents cannot contract away obligations for future child support, and that one parent's independent financial means does not relieve the other parent of child support obligations. Dahl v. Dahl, 2007 S.D. 64 (South Dakota 2007).


Social Security benefits and marital property. The South Dakota Supreme Court determined that social security benefits are a factor to be considered when dividing marital property in a divorce action. Johnson v. Johnson, 2007 S.D. 56 (South Dakota 2007).


Abandonment in South Dakota. Total desertion or abandonment of a child must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. The parent must have the intent to abandon the child and give up his parental obligations. The fact that the father was out of state did not mean he had abandoned his daughter when he attempted to contact her and sent her gifts and letters over the years. In re Termination of Parental Rights over T.E.L.S., 732 N.W.2d 740 (S.D. 2007).


Debt allocation in South Dakota divorce cases. A spouse's personal guarantee on a business loan was considered a contingent liability and thus, the court did not deduct the loan from his total assets when dividing marital assets. Contingent liabilities are extremely remote and the likelihood of having to pay is little. Speculative contingent liabilities should not be considered in apportioning the parties' assets for purposes of a property division. Larson v. Larson, 2007 SD 47 (South Dakota 2007).


Name changes for minor children in South Dakota. A child whose parents were not married was given the mother's last name on her birth certificate. Eighteen months after the child was born, the father filed a petition to change his daughter's surname to his. The issue of what surname a child should use is guided by a determination of what is in the best interest of the child. Many factors are to be considered in a name change, including the child's preference and identification of the child as part of a family unit. In re Name Change of L.M.G., 738 N.W.2d 71 (S.D. 2007).


Contact a South Dakota family law and divorce lawyer at the Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., today to discuss your case and needs. Call 800-613-7989 ext. 213.

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