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South Dakota Child Support Laws

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The South Dakota Child Support system helps parents establish a financial partnership to support their children when they do not live together. Services through the Division of Child Support are available to any adult who has legal custody of a minor child.

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Services are also available to fathers who need help establishing paternity. Those who receive public assistance and are the custodian or guardian of a minor child whose parent(s) does not live in their home are automatically referred for child support services.


What is Child Support?


Child support is money parents pay to help other people support their children. The court orders the support. The support may be part of an interim, temporary, permanent or modified court order in a divorce, paternity action, order for protection, child custody action or a separate child support action.



What do I need to do to obtain a child support order?


To obtain any type of order, the Division of South Dakota Child Support must notify the noncustodial parent who it is trying to establish an order for. However, in some cases if the non-custodial parent cannot be located, action cannot be taken. If the whereabouts of the non-custodial parent are unknown, there are many places from which to gather information. Child Support specialists try to locate a non-custodial parent through the State Parent Locate Service which is linked with several state agencies such as Job Service, driver license and motor vehicle registration. If the person has never lived in South Dakota or has left the state, we request other states to search their files. We can also search on a national level through the Federal Parent Locate Service when the family has no knowledge of the other parent’s whereabouts.


The information provided to the Division of South Dakota Child Support by the custodial parent can greatly increase the chances of locating the noncustodial parent. Information about work history, friends, relatives, arrest records, former addresses or other pertinent information speeds up the location process and increases the chance of collecting support. In addition, two other tools are used to locate parents:


  • The Federal Case Registry Contains limited information about each child support case in the United States. It matches quarterly wage information and unemployment compensation records submitted by each state with the National Directory of New Hires.
  • National Directory of New Hire Reporting: Federal law requires all employers to report information about newly hired employees. They report the information to their state. The state then reports the information to the National Directory of New Hires.


South Dakota Child Support Specialists provide assistance in the following ways:


  • Locating noncustodial parents.
  • Paternity establishment.
  • Establishing court orders for child support and medical support.
  • Reviewing and modifying court orders for child support.
  • Enforcing court orders for child support and medical support.
  • Enforcing alimony if child support is also being collected.
  • Work with other states to enforce support when a parent doesn't live in South Dakota.
  • Payment collection and processing.


Shared Parenting Child Support Obligation


Under a shared responsibility parenting plan, each parent provides a suitable home for the child, the court order allows the child to spend at least 120 days in a calendar year in each home, and both parents have agreed in writing to share the duties, responsibilities and expenses of parenting, including any expenses for the child's education, recreation and entertainment activities. South Dakota allows for a cross credit calculation in determining the child support obligation.


Split Custody South Dakota Child Support Obligation


In numerous situations the parents of two or more children agree and/or the court orders a split custody arrangement where one parent will be the primary physical custodian of one or more children and the other parent will be the primary custodial parent of the other child(ren). The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health insurance at little or no cost to South Dakota children who meet certain eligibility guidelines. CHIP provides health insurance coverage to uninsured children whose family income is up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level (monthly income of $3,675 for a family of four). Children who already have private health insurance may also be eligible for CHIP paying deductibles, co-payments and other medical services not covered by their private policy. Doctor Check-Up CHIP covers:


  • Doctor Appointments
  • Hospital Stays
  • Dental and Vision Services
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Mental Health Care
  • Other Medical Services


Non-custodial Parent


The Department of Social Services can restrict the issuance and/or renewal of any:


  • Driver's License
  • Professional License
  • Hunting License
  • Fishing License


License issued by the State of South Dakota Child Support if the applicant owes $1,000 or more in past-due child support can be suspended. A person has three options when his/her has been restricted:


  1. Pay arrears amount in full.
  2. Enter into a stipulation for repayment. The individual must negotiate a repayment plan with the Division of Child Support, Licensing Section. Once a repayment plan is agreed upon, the person will be required to sign a stipulation, which will be forwarded to the circuit court for approval. Once the circuit court has approved the stipulation, the restriction on any affected licenses will be lifted.
  3. Request an administrative review. If the individual believes his/her license should not be restricted, he/she may submit a written request for an administrative review to the local office handling his/her case. If the person thinks the results of the administrative review are legally incorrect, the person may request an administrative hearing.


Revocation of a License


The Department of Social Services can administratively revoke a driver’s license if a person fails to comply with a court-ordered repayment agreement. A person notified his/her license is going to be revoked for failure to comply with the repayment agreement has three options:


  1. Pay the arrears in full.
  2. Pay the overdue amount that occurred under the repayment agreement.
  3. If the person thinks the results of the administrative review are legally incorrect, the person may request an administrative hearing.


Employer Information


Employers play a major role in helping single-parent families collect child support for their children. There are more than 15.8 million single-parent families in the United States receiving child support services. The collection of child support payments for single-parent families reduces their need for public assistance benefits and reduces the taxpayers' cost for these programs.


Income and Wage Withholding


Income withholding laws also apply to financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions. The Division of South Dakota Child Support has the authority to issue a withholding order to employers and officers of financial institutions, requiring them to withhold money from the accounts of those noncustodial parents who are not meeting their South Dakota Child Support obligation. Additionally, income withholding laws apply to other forms or sources of payments to noncustodial parents. Withholding is required by law for every parent who has a child support obligation. Therefore, employers should know when an order to withhold income is issued against an employee, it does not necessarily mean the employee is delinquent in child support payments.


Questions and Answers


When should I begin withholding?


You should deduct the first payment from any income that is payable to the employee after the order is served.


Are cash advances subject to withholding?


Yes, Cash advances are considered part of the employee’s pay and are subject to withholding provisions.


Is there a fee for wage withholding?


Yes, South Dakota Child Support allows the employer or payer of income to deduct an amount not to exceed $3 per month from the employee's/ noncustodial parent's income to cover the expenses involved in transmitting the amount withheld. The $3 fee should not reduce the amount of child support withheld and transmitted to the Division of South Dakota Child Support and is deducted from the employee's remaining net income. The $3 fee is not used in determining the 50 percent limitation of withholding.


Is there a limit to the amount being withheld?

The total amount withheld for cash support and health insurance premiums cannot exceed 50 percent of an employee’s income after deducting the following:


  • State, federal and local tax
  • Social Security tax
  • statutory pension contributions; Medicare taxes
  • Any other deductions which are required to be withheld, either by law or as a condition of employment.


The $3 fee which may be assessed by the employer is not used in determining the 50 percent limitation of withholding. The law also requires you to withhold South Dakota Child Support without regard to any prior claims to creditors. This means the order to withhold child support has priority over any other creditor claims or voluntary deductions made by the employee.


How are South Dakota Child Support obligations determined?


The South Dakota Child Support Legislature has established guidelines which courts must use to determine that an equitable share of parental income and resources are allocated to the child when that child’s parents are separated, divorced or unmarried. The combined monthly net incomes of both parents must be used in determining the obligation and divided proportionately between the parents based on their respective net incomes. The noncustodial parent’s proportionate share establishes the amount of the child support order.


If using only the noncustodial parent’s monthly net income is within the low income obligation areas of the guidelines, the amount must be compared to the noncustodial parent’s proportionate share using both parent’s monthly net incomes. The lesser amount establishes the noncustodial parent’s child support order. The court may also apportion the costs for child care and health and dental insurance between the parents. These guidelines are presumed appropriate unless either parent presents evidence warranting a deviation.


Modification


In South Dakota, the Circuit Court is the only entity with authority to modify a child support obligation. This is usually done in response to a petition filed by one of the parents. Either parent or a representative may file a petition to modify their South Dakota Child Support order. A support order may be modified without showing any change in circumstances if the order was entered prior to July 1, 2005.


An order entered after July 1, 2005 may be modified only:


  • If it was entered three years or more from the date the petition is filed
  • Upon showing a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the entry of the order.


Petition for Modification Form


These forms are also available from local offices throughout the state.A petitioner must provide the complete address of the other parent and enter the actual dollar amount of the support obligation being requested. If the petitioner is not sure what this amount should be, he or she should enter an amount that they believe the support order should be. See child support payment guidelines.


The completed, notarized petition, along with a financial statement, verification of income, South Dakota Child Support Order Filing Data form UJS/DSS 089, copy of the most recent South Dakota court order or decree establishing child support and other necessary attachments must be filed with the South Dakota Department of Social Services. Completed petition are filed with the Clerk of Courts When the petition and attachments are received by the Department of Social Services, the forms are reviewed for completeness and forwarded to the Clerk of Courts in the county where the support order was entered. The Circuit Court Judge will then appoint a referee to conduct a hearing.


What happens when a Referee conducts a modification hearing?


The court appointed referee will send a notice of the modification hearing to both parties by mail and request the respondent to submit financial and other information to be considered in establishing the child support obligation. The notice will advise the parties of the time and place of the hearing. This usually occurs within 30 days from the date the petition is filed. This time frame may vary depending on the workload of the referee and the location of the hearing. The hearing may be held in the county of the parent responding to the petition or in the county where the referee is located. The petitioner must appear at the hearing in person or by telephone or the referee may dismiss the modification request.


While there are no fees charged to either party, the referee or the court may assess costs under certain circumstances. The referee will designate the location of the hearing, typically a private office or local courthouse. Referees may hold hearings by phone if either party lives a long distance from the hearing site. Distant parties who wish to take part by phone must make arrangements with the referee in advance of the hearing.


At the hearing, the referee will obtain information and testimony from the parents regarding their financial resources and circumstances in order to determine the child support obligation as provided under the South Dakota Child Support guidelines and laws. The parents should present any issues and evidence they want the referee to consider in setting the support order, i.e. deviations or additional factors they want considered in establishing the obligation.


It is not necessary for either party to obtain legal counsel for a modification hearing. However, they may do so if they desire, at their own expense. Persons not licensed as attorneys by the South Dakota Bar Association may not represent the parties at a modification hearing. Once a petition is filed with the Clerk of Courts, the parties may not enter into a voluntary agreement for payment of South Dakota Child Support without the referee’s written approval. Referee submits a recommended order to the court.


Once a petition is filed with the Clerk of Courts, the parties may not enter into a voluntary agreement for payment of South Dakota Child Support without the referee’s written approval. Referee submits a recommended order to the court. After the modification hearing, the referee will prepare and file a report and a recommended order for support with the Circuit Court. Both parties are sent a copy of the referee’s report and the recommended order.


In determining the support obligation, the combined monthly net incomes of both parents and number of children must be used in determining the obligation and divided proportionately between the parties based on their respective net incomes. The amount of child support to be paid by the noncustodial parent is determined by finding the category on the child support payment schedule closest to the combined monthly net incomes for both parents and apportioning that amount between the parents on the basis of their respective incomes.


If the obligation using only the non-custodial parent’s monthly net income is within the bolded areas of the schedule, that amount must be compared to the noncustodial parent’s proportionate share using both parents’ monthly net incomes. The lesser amount establishes the non-custodial parent's South Dakota Child Support order. The referee may also consider deviations provided by the parents and additional issues raised by either party such as child care costs, health insurance coverage, abatements for visitation or shared parenting and travel costs for visitation. Filing objections to the referee’s report


Within 10 days of the referee’s report and recommended order, either party may file objections contesting the recommended child support order. Objections must be in writing and filed with the Clerk of Courts in the county that issued the order being modified. The Circuit Court may require a transcript of the referee hearing to be filed with the written objections.


If objections are filed within 10 days by one of the parties, the other party must have an additional five days from the date of service of the objections to file additional objections with the court. The Circuit Court then schedules a hearing to consider the objections to the referee’s report. This hearing is based solely on the record established at the referee’s hearing. That is, the Court may not consider any new evidence or information, only the issues and evidence presented at the referee’s modification hearing. After the court hearing on the objections, the Circuit Court may adopt, modify, or reject and remand the referee’s report with instructions to the referee for further hearing.


Court enters the modification order


If neither party files objections to the referee’s report and recommended order within 10 days of the referee’s report, the Circuit Court will enter the order. If objections are filed, the court will enter an order after the court hearing on the objections. A copy of the order will be sent to both parties by certified mail. A party who disagrees with the court order may appeal the decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court within 30 days.


New and Modified orders


All new and modified orders have this requirement. If the noncustodial parent fails to make payments through the Payment Center, they may not be given credit for support payments made directly to the custodial parent. The South Dakota Child Support Payment Center generally processes all payments within two business days of receipt. Parents must allow two to three days for mail delivery or electronic transmittal. There can be delays in payments due to holidays, inclement weather, postal delivery service and computer problems. The Division of Child Support accepts electronic funds transfers from employers and has implemented direct deposit to the custodial parent’s bank accounts or electronic payment card.


South Dakota Child Support Customer service


South Dakota Department of Social Services
Division of Child Support
Child Support Payment Center
700 Governors Drive, Suite 84
Pierre, SD 57501
605-773-3641


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