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Legal Information: South Dakota

South Dakota Child Support

Basic information about child support in South Dakota

Who can file for child support? How long will child support last?

Both parents have a legal duty to support their children. In most cases, the law will assume that the parent the child lives with most of the time (custodial parent) is spending money directly on the child and so that’s why child support is usually issued against the non-custodial parent. In South Dakota, child support will last until:

  • your child turns 18; or
  • your child turns 19 if s/he is still a full-time high school student.1

Even if your child has been placed with the Department of Social Services, both parents are still responsible for supporting their child.2

1 SDCL § 25-5-18.1
2 SDCL § 25-7-7.1

How much child support will I get?

The amount of support the court will order depends on the parents’ income and how much time they spend with their children. Using South Dakota’s child support guidelines, the court will determine each parent’s net income and then add those amounts together to get a baseline support amount. This amount is then split between you and the other parent in proportion to each of your incomes.1

“Net income” is gross income minus deductions.2 Generally speaking, gross income is money you receive on a regular basis from work or other income streams. You can see the complete list of income sources the court will consider when deciding “gross income” on our Selected South Dakota Statutes page. 3

If a parent’s income alone isn’t enough to cover his/her share of your child’s needs, the court can look at a parent’s other assets and his/her ability to borrow money to make up the difference. Other assets can include things like savings or life insurance.4

The South Dakota Department of Social Services provides a child support calculator and a child support obligation worksheet to help you estimate child support. These tools are only set up for situations where your child lives with you most of the time.

If you have a custody order that says your child should spend at least 180 nights per year in each parent’s home, you probably have “shared” or “joint” physical custody.5 If this is your situation, you can use the shared parenting child support obligation worksheet instead.

If either parent disagrees with the payment amount suggested by the guidelines, s/he can ask the court to consider ordering a different amount. Any changes to the guidelines amount must be based on at least one of several specific factors.6

If you’d like to talk to an attorney for advice, please visit our Finding a Lawyer page.

1 SDCL § 25-7-6.2
2 SDCL § 25-7-6.7
3 SDCL §§ 25-7-6.3; 25-7-6.4
4 SDCL § 25-7-6.5
5 SDCL § 25-7-6.27
6 SDCL § 25-7-6.10

Are medical expenses included in a child support order?

In South Dakota, the court will enter a medical support order to explain how your child’s health care needs will be taken care of. If either parent has private health insurance that can include the child at a “reasonable cost,” that parent might be ordered to add the child to the plan. In this case, enrolling the child in public health coverage instead would not satisfy the medical support obligation.

The cost of the insurance will be divided between you and the other parent on the basis of income. If either of you pays the entire amount because it is deducted from your paycheck, for example, you’ll either be reimbursed by the other parent for his/her part of the payment if you are the child support recipient; or you’ll get a credit on your child support payments if you are the one who pays child support.1

Sometimes there are costs that aren’t covered by insurance. If your child lives with you most of the time, you’ll be responsible for paying the first $250 of additional health care costs in each calendar year. After that, both parents will divide these costs in the same proportions that your support obligations are divided. Additional health care costs must be reasonable and can include things like:

  • medical care;
  • dental or orthodontic care;
  • counseling; or
  • eye care.1

1 SDCL § 25-7-6.16

Are childcare expenses included in a child support order?

The court will consider splitting up reasonable childcare expenses in some situations. This usually means that you or the other parent need someone to watch your child so that you can look for work, go to work, or go to school. If your child lives with you most of the time and you qualify for the federal child care tax credit, the court may factor that in.1

1 SDCL § 25-7-6.18

Can child support be ordered retroactively?

You can ask for back child support for up to three years from the date you applied for child support or the date a written demand was served on the other parent, whichever is earlier.1 For example, if you applied for support on June 1, 2023, you can ask for child support to start anytime after June 1, 2020.

1 SDCL § 25-7A-21.1

Can my child support order be changed?

According to the South Dakota Department of Social Services website, if you got your child support order after July 1, 2022, it can only be changed (modified) if you prove to the court that:

  • there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was entered if the petition is filed within three years of the date of the order; or
  • it has been at least three years since you got your order.1

If you got your child support order before July 1, 2022, you don’t have to prove that there has been any change in circumstances to ask for a change in the amount.1

1South Dakota Department of Social Services website; see also SDCL §§ 25-7A-22; SDCL § 25-7-6.13

I don’t live near my child’s other parent. Who pays to transport the child for visits?

If you and your child’s other parent live far away from each other, you can ask the court to decide how to split the travel costs. To make the decision, the court will look at each parent’s relative circumstances. The court will also consider which parent moved and what his/her reason for moving was.1

1 SDCL § 25-7-6.15