South Dakota law requires both parents to take care of the welfare, education, and support of their child. When parents separate, divorce, or are not married, one parent may have custody of the child. The parent without custody usually pays child support.
Sometimes parents agree to a certain amount of child support. If the court agrees with the amount, it sets the child support payments based on the agreement. When parents do not agree on child support, the judge decides how much the parent without custody pays.
If a parent has partial custody or shares custody equally, the court may still make the parent pay child support if the parent has a higher income. The judge also may set child support payments for each parent; however, the parent with the higher support payment pays only the difference between the two payments.
How Do You Petition for Child Support?
A parent can file for child support two ways:
- File a child support lawsuit directly with the court; or
- Complete an application with the South Dakota Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to open a child support case
Once the child support process begins, the court asks for information about employment, income, address, and custody arrangement of each parent. If paternity is in question, the judge may also request a DNA test for the father and child. The judge make the final decision about who pays the child support and how much the payments are based on the state child support guidelines.
What If You Don't Pay Child Support?
A child support order is a legal judgment. It is against the law not to pay your child support. You can face legal consequences, such as:
- Restricting you from getting or renewing on your license;
- Taking away your license;
- Taking money out of your paycheck;
- Taking your tax refund check
- Reporting your child support debt to credit agencies
- Paying fines; or
- Going jail
What Recourse can the Other Parent Have if You Don't Pay for Support?
A child support order entitles the owed parent to receive child support payments on time and in full. When the paying parent fails to pay you, two ways you can get your payments:
- File a child support enforcement action directly with the court; or
- Request the DCSS to file the action on your behalf.
The court may decide to withdraw money from the paying parent check or agree to payment plan so you to collect your unpaid payments.
How Can You Stop Paying Child Support?
A child support order is put in to effect by a judge. It is a crime to stop pay child support on your own. To stop a child support obligation, you must have a judge decide and put it an official court order. The court may decide to end your child support payments when significant change of circumstance occur:
- Your child turns 18;
- You lose your job through no fault of your own;
- Your child now lives with you; or
- You find out you are not the father through paternity testing.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
If you need help petitioning or modifying a child support order, then contact a local South Dakota family lawyer today to get the help you need.