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Legal Information: South Dakota

South Dakota Custody


Basic info and definitions

What is custody (custodial responsibility)?

Custody, also called “custodial responsibility,” is defined by South Dakota law as all powers and responsibilities related to taking care of your child, known as caretaking authority, and making decisions on his/her behalf, known as decision-making authority. This includes physical and legal custody.1

Generally speaking, these terms mean the following:

  • Caretaking authority is the actual physical care and supervision of your child. This includes the right to make day-to-day decisions about your child. . 
  • Decision-making authority is the right and responsibility to make major decisions about your child. These decisions include the child’s education, religious training, health care, extracurricular activities, and travel.2

1 SDCL § 25-4B-102(5)
SDCL § 25-4B-102(6)

What is joint legal custody?

Joint legal custody means both you and the other parent have full parental rights and responsibilities over your child. This also means both parents will need to discuss and participate in big decisions related to the wellbeing of your child, such as: 

  1. the child’s primary residence; 
  2. child care, education, and extracurricular activities; 
  3. medical and dental care; 
  4. religious upbringing;
  5. the child’s use of motor vehicles; and 
  6. any other responsibilities that the judge finds unique to a particular family or in the best interest of the child.

The judge can order joint legal custody after considering the desires of the parents and deciding it is in the best interest of your child. As part of the order, the judge could divide “ultimate decision-making power” between the parents or give it to just one of you.1 Ultimate decision-making power means that if parents cannot agree on a particular issue, one of you will be able to have the final say on that matter.

If joint legal custody is awarded, it is expected that both parents have to foster the other parent’s relationship with the child.2

1 SDCL § 25-5-7.1
2 SDCL § 25-5-7.6

How is paternity established?

Paternity, also known as legal fatherhood, can be established at any time before the 18th birthday of your child in the following ways:

  • Presumed- if the parents are married or your child is born within 10 months of the divorce, the husband is automatically assumed (“presumed”) to be the legal father.However, if the biological father is not the husband, then a three-way paternity affidavit can be signed by the mother, the biological father, and the husband.2
  • Voluntarily- both parents sign a paternity affidavit under oath. This could be done at the hospital/clinic when your child is born or later on at the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Department of Health, or the local Register of Deeds Office.
  • Involuntarily- either parent may start administrative or legal proceedings to establish paternity. This will usually include genetic testing.2

1 SDCL § 25-5-3
2 “Voluntary Paternity Establishment,” South Dakota Department of Social Services.

What are the standard parenting guidelines and how do they affect my case?

The South Dakota Supreme Court has established standard parenting guidelines, which generally apply to custody cases in the state.1 These Guidelines try to solve some of the most common issues faced by separated parents, including:

  • parental communication, 
  • schooling, 
  • daycare, 
  • social media, 
  • communication with children, and 
  • visitation.2

However, the Guidelines cannot overrule the provisions included in:

  • a domestic violence protection order; 
  • an order arising out of an abuse or neglect proceeding; 
  • a bond condition arising out of a criminal case; or 
  • an order in any other proceeding affecting child custody or support.

If you and the other parent reach a visitation agreement that does not follow these Guidelines, you should do so in writing. The agreed plan has to be signed by both parents and approved by the court to replace the standard parenting guidelines or any plan filed previously.3 If parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan and there is no other order regarding custody, the parenting guidelines become an order of the court once one party serves the other with papers for divorce or custody.4

1 SDCL § 25-4A-9
2 SDCL § 25-4A-14
SDCL § 25-4A-12
4 SDCL § 25-4A-11

What is mediation? Is it ordered for victims of abuse?

If there’s an issue concerning custody or visitation between you and the other parent, the judge may order mediation to help you create, carry out, or change a plan for custody or visitation. 

Mediation should not be ordered if:

  1. there is a domestic abuse conviction;
  2. there is an assault conviction, except if it’s against a person related by blood but not living in the same household; 
  3. there is a history of domestic abuse; 
  4. mediation is not readily available; or
  5. the judge determines that mediation is not appropriate based on the specific circumstances of the case.1

If mediation is ordered:

  • the cost of mediation will be distributed between you and the other parent;1
  • the process will be private; 
  • the mediator could exclude attorneys from participating in the proceedings;2 and
  • any communication that is part of the proceeding, oral or written, is confidential and cannot be entered into evidence in any proceeding.3

If you and the other parent reach an agreement through mediation, the mediator will put it in writing and you and your attorney can review it before signing. Once an agreement is signed by both parents, it will be presented to the judge. The agreement will be binding once it is approved by order of the court.4

If no agreement is reached through mediation, the mediator will report this to the judge and may recommend that a full hearing about custody and visitation be held within 30 days.5

1 SDCL § 25-4-56
2 SDCL § 25-4-59
3 SDCL § 25-4-60
4 SDCL § 25-4-61
5 SDCL § 25-4-62

What does a parenting coordinator do?

If there is a custody or visitation dispute, the judge may appoint a parenting coordinator to help you resolve it.1 You or the other parent can specifically request that a parenting coordinator is appointed or the judge can decide on his/her own. Who is appointed for this role can be decided by the parents and approved by the judge or the judge can decide who the parenting coordinator will be.2

The judge can order that the parenting coordinator do the following:

  1. inform both parents of their role in the process; 
  2. monitor that the parenting plan is followed and resolve any minor issues that arise as long as they don’t involve a substantial change to the court order;
  3. recommend strategies for putting the parenting plan in place or resolving parenting issues that are impacting the plan;
  4. help you and the other parent develop better communication and cooperation so that you can effectively co-parent your child;
  5. help you and the other parent to better foster ongoing relationships with your child;
  6. help follow court orders and make recommendations to the judge regarding changing, clarifying, or enforcing a parenting time order;
  7. not allow the parties’ attorneys to participate in parenting coordinator sessions;
  8.  put safeguards in place during the process when there are domestic violence concerns, such as no direct communication or no joint meetings, for example;
  9. recommend community resources to you and the other parent;
  10. make recommendations on day-to-day issues experienced by you and the other parent; and
  11. other tasks specific to your case.3

However, even if there is a parenting coordinator appointed, the judge continues to be in charge of the case and is the only one with the legal power to make decisions related to child support, custody, or visitation.4 

The fees and costs associated with a parenting coordinator will be covered by you and the other parent.5 It’s also important to know that these services are not confidential and the judge can order the parenting coordinator to testify as part of the court process.6

1 SDCL § 25-4-63
2 SDCL § 25-4-64
3 SDCL § 25-4-70
SDCL § 25-4-72
5 SDCL § 25-4-69
6 SDCL § 25-4-74

Who can seek custody

Who can get custody of the child?

The law assumes (presumes) that the best interest of your child is to be in the care, custody, and control of his/her parent(s).1 Which parent will have custody or if custody will be shared between both parents will be based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child. For more information about the “best interest factors” that a judge will rely upon, you can see the question How will a judge make a decision about custody?

However, in certain circumstances, a non-parent can get custody. See Can a non-parent get custody of the child? for more information.

1 SDCL § 25-5-29

Can an abusive parent get custody or visitation?

Even though the judge has to consider any abuse history, it is possible that an abusive parent can get custody or visitation. 

When a judge is deciding custody, s/he should consider all of the following:

  1. a domestic abuse conviction;
  2. an assault conviction, except if it’s against a person related by blood but not living in the same household; 
  3. a history of domestic abuse;1 and
  4. the conviction of one parent for the death of the other, except in vehicular homicide.2

If there is a conviction or history of domestic abuse or a conviction of causing the death of the other parent, the judge will assume (presume) that giving custody to the abusive parent is not the best interest of the child. However, this is only a “rebuttable presumption,” which means the abuser can show evidence to try to convince the judge to change his/her mind.3

When it comes to visitation, the law only mentions that the judge will consider the conviction of one parent for the death of the other, except in vehicular homicide. The law does not specifically say that the judge has to consider the other factors listed above when deciding visitation.

1 SDCL § 25-4-45.5
2 SDCL § 25-4-45.6
SDCL §§ 25-4-45.5; 25-4-45.6

If my child was conceived from rape, can the offender get custody or visitation?

If the judge believes that there is “clear and convincing evidence” that your child was conceived as a result of rape or incest, the judge will assume (presume) that the offender should not get custody or visitation. However, this is a “rebuttable presumption,” which means the offender can show evidence to convince the judge that s/he should have custody or visitation rights for your child. If the offender already had visitation rights, the judge can take those away (“revoke” them).1

SDCL § 25-4A-20

Can a grandparent get visitation of the child?

The judge can give grandparents and great-grandparents visitation rights if s/he believes this would be in the best interest of the child and one of the following is true:

  • the visitation will not significantly interfere with the parent-child relationship; or
  • the parent or custodian has denied or prevented the grandparent from the opportunity to visit the grandchild.1

1 SDCL § 25-4-52

Can a non-parent get custody of the child?

A judge can allow a non-parent to join (intervene in) an ongoing custody case or to file his/her own petition in court for custody or visitation of a child for whom s/he:

  • has been a primary caretaker;
  • has closely bonded as a parental figure; or
  • has otherwise formed a significant and substantial relationship.1

Even though the law assumes (presumes) that the best interest of your child is to be in the care, custody, and control of his/her parent(s), a non-parent can win this right to custody if it is proven that:

  • the parent has abandoned or continuously neglected his/her child;
  • the parent has surrendered his/her parental rights to any person other than the other parent;
  • the parent has abandoned (abdicated) his/her parental rights and responsibilities; or
  • there are other extraordinary circumstances that would result in serious harm (detriment) to the child if custody is awarded to the parent, including: 
  1. it’s likely that the child would suffer serious physical or emotional harm if s/he is placed in the parent’s custody;
  2. the extended and unjustifiable absence of parental custody;
  3. other people have had to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and other needs for a long time; 
  4. there is a bond between the child and a non-parent that is strong enough that it would cause significant emotional harm to the child if there were a change in custody;
  5. a child’s well-being has improved substantially under the care of the non-parent;
  6. how long the parent has delayed trying to get back custody of the child;
  7. the demonstrated quality of the parent’s commitment to raising the child;
  8. how likely it is that the child will have stability and security in the future with the parent;
  9. if the child’s education would be damaged while in the custody of the parent; or
  10. any extraordinary circumstance that would substantially and significantly affect the welfare of the child.2

1 SDCL § 25-5-29
2 SDCL §§ 25-5-29; 25-5-30

Establishing custody and visitation rights

Who has custody rights if parents are not living together?

Usually, parents can decide on any type of custody agreement that works for the family and benefits their child. However, if parents cannot agree on custody (custodial responsibilities), it’s possible that a custody case will need to be filed. 

The time leading up to when a custody order is issued is covered under South Dakota law. Generally speaking, if your child was born while you were married to the other parent, then you both are equally entitled to custody.1 However, if your child is born out of wedlock, the law says the mother is entitled to custody unless and until a court order says otherwise, based on the child’s best interest.This initial right to custody does not mean the judge will assume this arrangement is in the best interest of the child when making a custody order.3

SDCL § 25-5-7
2 SDCL § 25-5-10
3 SDCL § 25-5-10.1

What are some advantages and disadvantages of getting a custody order?

Some people decide not to get a custody order because they don’t want to get the courts involved. They may have an informal agreement that works well for them or may think going to court will provoke the other parent. 

However, getting a custody order can give you:

  1. the right to make decisions about your child; and
  2. the right to have your child live with you.

If you decide not to get a custody order, then you and the other parent likely have equal rights to making decisions and living arrangements. The exception to this is when paternity has not been legally established. To consider if paternity has been established in your specific case, you can see the information in How is paternity established?

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

To make a decision about custody, the judge will consider what is called the “best interest of the child.” There are six categories the judge should consider within that best interest standard: 

  1. Child’s preference- if your child is old enough to form an intelligent decision;1
  2. Fitness- which parent is better equipped to provide for your child’s temporal, mental, and moral welfare.1Some factors include: 
    1. mental and physical health of each parent;
    2. capacity and willingness to provide for the child’s basic needs, including protection, food, clothing, and medical care; 
    3. ability to give the child love, affection, guidance, education, and religion;
    4. willingness to maturely encourage and provide frequent and meaningful contact between your child and the other parent; 
    5. commitment to prepare your child for responsible adulthood; and
    6. which parent would be an example to your child so that s/he can witness what it means to be a good parent, a loving spouse, and a responsible citizen;
  3. Stability- which parent can provide a stable and consistent home environment. This includes: 
    1. the relationship and interaction of your child with his/her parents, step-parents, siblings, and extended family;
    2. your child’s adjustment to home, school, and the community;
    3. the parent with whom your child has formed a closer attachment; and
    4. the continuity of your child’s custodial setting;
  4. Primary caretaker- who is more committed and involved in parenting your child. The primary caretaker can be identified by determining which parent consistently spends more time taking care of your child;
  5. Siblings- assuming that siblings should not be separated unless there are convincing (compelling) circumstances to do so; and
  6. Harmful parental misconduct- only if the parental misconduct is specifically harmful to the child.2

The judge can also order an investigation to help him/her decide on custody and visitation. The cost of this investigation will be divided between the parents.3

SDCL § 25-4-45
Fuerstenberg v. Fuerstenberg, 591 N.W.2d 798, 807, 1999 S.D. 35
3 SDCL § 25-4-56

How will the judge decide whether to grant joint physical custody?

At the request of either parent, the judge will consider awarding joint physical custody.1 If you and the other parent agree on joint physical custody, the judge doesn’t need to consider the factors included below.2 However, if one parent does not agree to joint physical custody, the judge may consider the following factors to make his/her ruling:

  1. whether each of you is suited for physical custody of your child and has an appropriate home for the child;
  2. if your child will suffer psychologically, emotionally, or developmentally if s/he doesn’t have active contact and attention from you and the other parent through joint custody; 
  3. if one parent has denied the other parent the opportunity of continuing contact with your child without a good reason to do so, legally referred to as “just cause”;
  4. whether you and the other parent can communicate effectively with each other regarding your child and can show respect for each other; 
  5. the extent to which both parents actively care for the child;
  6. whether you and the other parent can support your child’s relationship with each other;
  7. considering your child’s age, maturity, and reasoning, what are your child’s wishes or feelings regarding joint physical custody;
  8. if you or the other parent has intentionally alienated or interfered with the other parent’s relationship with the child;
  9. if one of the parents doesn’t agree with joint custody;
  10. how close the parents live to each other;
  11. if the safety of you, your child who is the subject of the case, or your other children will be at risk if joint physical custody is awarded;
  12. if you or the other parent allows a registered sex offender to have custody or control over your child;
  13. if you or the other parent tried to influence the custody process by falsely or without reason alleging that your child or his/her sibling has been the victim of physical or sexual abuse or neglect;
  14. each parent’s physical and mental ability to provide mental and moral wellness for your child;
  15. the ability and readiness of the parent to protect your child and provide food, clothing, medical care, and other basic needs; 
  16. the ability and willingness of the parent to provide love, affection, guidance, and education in order to nurture the family’s religion or faith;
  17. if the parent is committed to prepare the child for responsible adulthood, as well as to ensure that s/he experiences a fulfilling childhood; 
  18. if the parent can be a good model for the child as to what it means to be a good parent, loving spouse, and a responsible citizen;
  19. whether a parent can provide a stable and consistent home environment, including the relationship and interaction of the child with the parents, step-parents, siblings, and extended family;
  20. how well adjusted your child is to the home, school, and community; 
  21. if a break in attachment with the parent to whom the child has form a closer bond would be harmful because of the break in continuity for the child; and
  22. if the parent is guilty of misconduct that might have a harmful effect on the child.3

There is not a presumption of joint physical custody, which means the judge will not automatically assume that it is the best option. The judge will decide based on the best interests of the child.4 Before deciding on joint custody, the judge can require a home study or custody evaluation for the parents. Either parent may also request mediation prior to the judge ruling on joint physical custody.5

1 SDCL § 25-4A-21
2 SDCL § 25-4A-25
3 SDCL § 25-4A-24
4 SDCL § 25-4A-26
5 SDCL § 25-4-45.3

How does military deployment affect the judge’s decision on custody?

When deciding on custody, the judge cannot consider a parent’s past or future deployment in determining the best interest of the child. However, the best interest standard can be reconsidered if after the parent’s return from deployment, the parent or child shows a substantial and material change in circumstances that affects that parent’s ability to adequately care for the child.1

1 SDCL § 25-4B-107

What are the steps for filing for custody?

Before filing in court for custody, you may want to consider drawing up an out-of-court agreement with the other parent. Usually, parents will have to be flexible when it comes to custody and visitation for the benefit of the child. Often times, parents who fight for sole custody will litigate in court for months or even years and end up with some sort of joint custody agreement after settlement or trial. However, sometimes fighting for sole custody is necessary because you can’t agree with the other parent, the other parent is not allowing contact, or you fear for your child’s well-being. Especially with domestic violence, many abusers will try to keep power and control over the victim-survivor through the child, so joint custody isn’t recommended due to the power difference in the relationship. 

If you decide to file in court for custody, although custody laws vary by state, the process usually looks similar to this:

  1. File for custody. Depending on the state, you may file in the family court or a court of a different name that hears custody cases. Generally, you will file in the county where the child lives and, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to request an emergency or temporary order as part of your petition. The exact petition you file may depend on whether you are married or not:
    • If you are a married parent who is also filing for divorce, you can usually include the custody petition within the divorce process.
    • If you are a married parent who is not filing for divorce, you can file for custody on its own.
    • If you are an unmarried parent, you can also seek custody in court. However, if paternity hasn’t been established, which means that the father hasn’t been legally recognized, then this process will likely have to happen first or as part of the custody process.

When there’s a custody issue within a divorce process or on its own, the plaintiff has to also file and serve the defendant with a copy of the standard parenting guidelines. These guidelines are considered an order of the court once service is completed. The child will stay under the custody of the parent who was the primary caregiver in the 12 months before the filing unless parties agree otherwise. These guidelines will continue in effect from service and until the parties agree or the court rules otherwise.1

     2.  Prepare for the custody process

The court custody process is usually very long and can be emotionally and financially draining. If you are representing yourself in court, you can learn about the court process and how to present evidence on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section. If you are able to hire an attorney, you can use this list of questions as your guide when deciding who to hire.  

During the court process, you will try to prove why you should have your child’s custody. When preparing for court, you can gather evidence that helps make your case as to why you should have custody of the child. This process should be directed by the factors the law says a judge should consider when deciding custody. You can see How will a judge make a decision about custody? for more information. It’s important to consider that the judge will be focused on what is in the best interest of your child and many states consider that this is to have a relationship with both parents.

     3.  Prepare for trial

There will be one or more hearings, including a trial, if the parties cannot reach an agreement by themselves or as part of a mediation process.  During trial, you or your attorney will be able to present evidence and to cross-examine the other party to help the judge make a decision.  

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can plan for your safety while in court and you should ask the judge to include some protections in the custody order. For example, you can ask for some of the following terms:

  • communications between the parents can only be in writing;
  • all communications can only be related to the child; and 
  • a neutral third party should be present at the exchange of the child or should be the one to drop off and pick up the child.

You should also try to be as specific as possible in terms of the decision-making powers of each parent, who has the child on holidays, birthdays, etc., and the time and place for pick-ups and drop-offs of the child as to avoid future conflicts. 

     4.  Options if you lose the custody case

There could be a couple of options that are filed immediately after the judge makes the custody order:

  • motion for reconsideration asks the judge to decide differently based on the law or new evidence. 
  • An appeal moves the case to a higher court and asks that court to review the lower court’s decision due a judge’s error. 

A petition to change (modify) the order is an option that would not be filed right away. You could ask for a modification if, later on, a substantial change of circumstances happens. A few examples could be if the other parent gets sent to jail, gets charged with child abuse or neglect, or moves to another state. 

You can also watch our Custody, Visitation, and Child Support videos where we explain the process.  The videos include information about the different types of custody and visitation and related legal concepts that a judge will consider, as well as information about child support, and moving out of state with your child.

1 SDCL § 25-4A-11

Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to file for custody. However, it is highly recommended that you get a lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find sources of free or low-cost legal help on our SD Finding a Lawyer page. Even if you plan on representing yourself, a lawyer might be able to provide legal counsel on options available in your specific case or review your papers before you file them.

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you. 

After an order is in place

If the other parent doesn’t follow the custody order, what can I do?

Once the other parent is notified of the custody process and hearing, any decision or order of court is enforceable.1 If one of the parents does not follow the order, the other parent can ask the judge to enter an order to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court.2 If the custodial parent refuses to follow the visitation schedule, the non-custodial parent can also file a motion for enforcement of visitation rights.3 In both cases the judge will schedule a hearing on the matter.

If the judge believes that one of the parents willfully violated or failed to obey the custody or visitation order, s/he can impose a punishment (sanctions) to punish the offender or to make him/her follow the order. The judge can order that the offending parent does one or more of the following:

  • provide make-up time with the child;
  • pay court costs and attorney’s fees associated with the violation;
  • pay a civil penalty up to $1,000;
  • participate in counseling or parent education classes; 
  • post money (a bond) or other security with the court that would not be returned if  the parent failed to obey the order moving forward; 
  • serve jail time of not more than three days; or
  • obey any other sanction that the judge believes is appropriate in the case.4

If there is a serious (grave) violation or multiple violations, the judge may change (modify) the existing custody or visitation order.4

1 SDCL § 25-4A-1
2 SDCL § 25-4A-2
3 SDCL § 25-4A-4.1
4 SDCL § 25-4A-5

If I don’t agree with the custody order, how can I get it changed?

In South Dakota, the standard parenting guidelines will set out the custody arrangement to be followed by the parents. You can object to the standard guidelines and the judge will order a hearing within thirty days. Considering the best interest of the child, the judge will then issue a temporary custody and visitation order.1

Once there is a final custody order in place, if there is a substantial change in circumstances from the time the custody order was issued, you can request a change (modification). The judge will hold a hearing to consider the best interest of the child as well as the other factors included the question How will the judge decide to grant joint physical custody? when deciding whether to grant the change requested.2

1 SDCL § 25-4A-13
2 SDCL § 25-4A-27

Can the non-custodial parent have access to the child’s records?

Both parents have equal access to records and information related to the child, including healthcare and school records. The law says that both parents should make reasonable efforts so that the name and address of the other parent is listed on these records.1 This is also the case when enrolling your child in any social, religious, or peer group activity.2

However, everything explained above does not apply in a case where a judge has:

  1. terminated the rights of one of the parents; 
  2. issued a court order that restrains one of the parents from contact with the child; or
  3. determined that it’s inappropriate under the circumstances in a particular case.3

1 SDCL § 25-5-7.3
2 SDCL § 25-5-7.4
3 SDCL § 25-5-7.5

What steps do I have to take if I am the custodial parent and I want to relocate out of state with my child?

If a custody order doesn’t say anything about changing the primary residence of your child, the parent that wants to move has to send a written notice to the other parent. This “reasonable written notice” can be done by certified mail or the other parent can admit in writing that they received it (admission of service).  “Reasonable” notice means that it is given at least 45 days before the move or a shorter period of time if it’s reasonable within the circumstances that are causing the move. Proof of this notice has to be filed with the court.1

The relocation notice has to include:

  • city, state, and telephone number of the new residence; 
  • purpose for moving;
  • why moving is in the best interest of the child; and
  • a proposed visitation plan for the non-relocating parent.2

If the other parent doesn’t agree with the move, s/he must request a hearing within 30 days of receiving the notice. The court will then hold a hearing considering the best interest of the child. If no objection to the move is filed, it will be assumed (presumed) that the non-custodial parent consents.3  

No relocation notice has to be given if one of the following is true:

  1. moving will bring your child closer to the other parent; 
  2. the move is within the limits of your child’s current school district;
  3. there is a valid restraining order protecting you or your child from the non-custodial parent; or
  4. in the last 12 months, the non-custodial parent has been convicted of violating a restraining order, criminal assault, child abuse, or another domestic violence crime and the victim was you or your child.3 

Note: The exceptions listed in #3 and #4 do not apply an order establishing parenting time was issued as part of the restraining order, after the restraining order, or after the criminal conviction.

1 SDCL § 25-4A-17
2 SDCL § 25-4A-18
3 SDCL § 25-4A-19
4 SDCL § 25-4A-17

If I move to a new state, can I transfer my child custody case there?

After a final custody order is issued, there may come a time when you and your children move to a different state. For information about how to request to transfer the custody case to a new state, please go to the Transferring a custody case to a different state section in our general Custody page. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may likely first need to get permission from the court or from the other parent to move your children out of state. Please talk to a lawyer to make sure your plans to move don’t violate your custody order or your state’s parental kidnapping laws.