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Legal Information: South Dakota

Custody

Laws current as of November 28, 2023

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