Although you and your spouse may agree to getting a divorce, you must follow the rules of South Dakota to properly end the marriage. A divorce is initiated by filing a complaint with the court. You may file your own paperwork, or use an online documentation service to prepare and file your paperwork. After filing, you and your spouse may submit a Stipulation and Settlement Agreement to avoid going to trial.
In order to divorce in South Dakota, you must meet both the residency requirements and have grounds for divorce. South Dakota will only grant a divorce if the person who files the paperwork is a resident of the state. Couples may divorce on fault-based grounds, such as adultery or cruelty, but the state also allows couples to divorce on the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences. For an amicable divorce, you would likely file on the grounds of irreconcilable differences because, in doing so, neither spouse is placing blame on the other spouse for the marriage coming to an end.
The divorce process begins by filing a complaint for divorce. In the complaint, you must include the names, addresses and social security numbers of each spouse, date of the marriage, and the grounds for divorce. If you have children, you must also include the names and birthdays of your children. You must serve the complaint on your spouse, along with a summons, which lets your spouse know that he must respond to the complaint. Service must be completed by the sheriff or an adult other than yourself. You will then submit the complaint and Certificate of Service to the court.
Stipulation and Settlment Agreement
If you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, you may prepare a Stipulation and Settlement Agreement to submit to the court. The agreement may cover how you want to split up property, whether one spouse will receive alimony or child support, and how the parents will share child custody. Both spouses must initial each page and sign the agreement before a notary public before submitting it to the court for final approval. However, any issues that were not settled by the agreement will be decided by the court.
Waiting Period and Judgment
After filing for a divorce, even if you have reached agreement, South Dakota courts will not finalize the divorce until the end of a 60-day waiting period. You may submit an affidavit that states you both agree to the divorce; thereby, allowing the court to finalize the divorce without scheduling a hearing. The court will finalize the divorce by entering a final judgment and decree.