Requirements for Getting a Legal Separation in South Dakota
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Legal separation in South Dakota begins when the couple starts living separate and apart after signing a settlement agreement resolving all the marital issues. The process of legal separation in South Dakota is similar to the divorce process of the state. The petitioner is supposed to cite the grounds in order to get a legal separation. The grounds for divorce and legal separation are also similar to each other.
The separation is issued in the form of a court decree, which makes it 'legal' and is legally binding on both the parties. It lasts for the lifetime of the parties and is also known as 'Separate Maintenance' or 'Temporary Separation Orders'.
Grounds for Legal Separation in South Dakota:
As mentioned earlier, the grounds for legal separation and divorce in the state of South Dakota are the same. These grounds are specified by the statute and are as follows:
Settlement Agreement in South Dakota:
- Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage – South Dakota is a no-fault divorce state and grants divorce even if no partner is held at fault for a broken marriage. The couple just has to state that their marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown due to the irreconcilable differences in the opinions as well as other factors that hold a marriage together. The court orders the couple to prepare a settlement agreement mutually and part their ways.
- Adultery – If either of the spouses has committed adultery in any form such as extra marital affair, one night stand, fling, pregnancy out of marriage, romantic liaisons with several partners out of the marriage, the aggrieved spouse can file for separation for the sake of their children as well as the financial, religious and social benefits.
- Imprisonment – When one of the spouses is convicted of the charges of felony, he / she is bound to be imprisoned. If this imprisonment is for a period of more than one year, the other spouse can file for legal separation under the grounds of conviction of felony or imprisonment. The imprisoned spouse cannot take care of the family and is a bad influence on the children's emotional as well as social well-being.
- Desertion – If either of the spouses leaves the marital home for a period of one year and his / her whereabouts are unknown for a long time, the other spouse can file for a legal separation in the state of South Dakota. Since the whereabouts of the missing spouse are unknown, it is assumed that he / she is not interested in continuing the marriage and legal separation is granted.
- Cruel and Inhuman Treatment – Physical, sexual abuse and mental torture constitute the label cruel and inhuman treatment. The aggrieved spouse can file for legal separation if he / she is suffering from either type of the abuse for years.
- Willful Neglect – If a partner neglects the household duties and responsibilities in spite of being financially and physically strong to shouldering the responsibilities, such a conduct is considered as willful neglect and the aggrieved partner can file for legal separation on the grounds of neglect in the state of South Dakota.
- Habitual Substance Abuse – Habit of consuming drugs, alcohol or medications, which make a person 'high' is the ground for legal separation in the state of South Dakota.
As mentioned earlier, the couple is supposed to sign a settlement agreement, which is also known as separation agreement or temporary separation orders according to the statute of South Dakota. The settlement agreement deals with the following issues:
One might think that they may as well get a divorce if the grounds are the same and the process is also similar. However, one must consider the situation they are in and then decide whether they want to file for divorce or legal separation.
- Child Custody – Usually the courts in South Dakota award joint custody in case of dispute between the parents. However, ideally the parents are supposed to decide the custody arrangement as they are well aware of the child's preference and the rapport he / she shares with the parents. Joint custody enables the parents to retain the full duties and responsibilities they have towards their children. The child's preference is also considered if the child is old enough to understand the situation.
- Child Support – The statute uses income Shares Model while determining the amount of child support. Each parent has to chip in a specific percentage of their income as a contribution to the child support. The support continues until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes graduation from high school. The financial conditions, the income of the parents and other factors influence the payment of child support.
- Parenting Plan – The parents are supposed to mutually prepare a parenting plan with complete visitation schedule and the list of holidays and breaks. It is also important to mention which holidays will be spent with which parent and the small breaks as well as long holidays. Every trivial issues needs a mention as it could be a big issue in no time. The parents should not let their ego preside while preparing a parenting plan.
- Spousal Support – The court determines whether the dependent spouse needs alimony or whether they can survive on their own. The payment of alimony can be either temporary or permanent and it can be paid as a lump sum or in installments for each month for a specific period of time.
- Property Settlement – South Dakota is an equitable distribution state and the marital as well as the individual property is distributed equitably between both the parties so that they get a better deal that is beneficial for both of them.