WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Legal Information: South Dakota


October 1, 2020

What are the grounds for divorce in South Dakota?

Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. You can get a divorce in South Dakota without claiming that your spouse is at fault (a “no-fault” divorce). The judge can grant you a no-fault divorce if the judge finds that there are irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse. Irreconcilable differences exist when there are substantial reasons for the marriage to end.1

The judge can also grant you a divorce in South Dakota if you claim that your spouse was responsible (at fault) for the divorce for any of the following reasons:

  1. Adultery - your spouse has sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex after you’re married;2
  2. Extreme cruelty - your spouse causes you serious physical injury or causes you serious mental suffering;3
  3. Willful desertion – your spouse leaves you with the intent to leave the marriage. It is not “willful desertion” if you and your spouse separate with the knowledge that one of you is planning to file for divorce. “Willful desertion” can also mean:
    1. your spouse regularly refuses to have sexual intercourse when there is no physical or mental reason for her/him to do so;
    2. your spouse tricks you into leaving your home, and then abandons the marriage;
    3. your spouse is cruel or threatens bodily harm to you, and you are forced to flee the marriage to avoid reasonably expected danger;
    4. your spouse leaves temporarily, and then decides to leave permanently while s/he is gone; or
    5. your spouse refuses a good faith effort by you to get back together (reconcile) and fix the marriage;4
  4. Willful neglect – your spouse refuses to provide for your common needs, even though s/he can afford to do so, or because of laziness (idleness), extravagant habits (profligacy), or wastefulness (dissipation); 5
  5. Habitual intemperance – your spouse is under the influence of alcohol so often that s/he can’t manage normal activities, or so often that it causes you intense emotional distress;6 or
  6. Conviction of felony – your spouse is convicted of a felony during your marriage.7

1 SDCL § 25-4-17.1
2 SDCL § 25-4-3
3 SDCL § 25-4-4
4 SDCL §§ 25-4-5; 25-4-8 through 25-4-13
5 SDCL § 25-4-15
6 SDCL § 25-4-16; Connelly v. Connelly, 362 N.W.2d 91 (1985)
7 SDCL § 25-4-2