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South Dakota Court Records

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What are South Dakota Family Court Records?

Family Court Records refer to all the records and files that are produced and maintained in relation to cases which are overseen by a Family Court. These documents comprise any materials that shed more light on the details of the matter being disputed, the concerned disputants, and the manner by which the disputants are connected. South Dakota family court records also contain other materials that are related to the dispute such as digital recordings, photographs, and phone data.

What Is a Family Court in South Dakota State?

In the South Dakota Unified Judicial System, the circuit courts conduct general trials and hold jurisdiction over all family-related matters. There are seven circuits in the state as well as thirty-eight circuit judges to serve them all.

What Cases are Heard by Family Courts?

The types of family cases heard by the South Dakota Circuit Court include:

  • Divorce
  • Support Orders
  • Legal Custody
  • Paternity Disputes
  • Adoption

How to Serve Family Court Papers in South Dakota State

The process of serving family court papers begins with filling out the forms related to the case. If the plaintiff is using the services of a lawyer, their lawyer will most likely send over the forms. However, if the plaintiff is representing themselves, they can find the necessary forms online on the South Dakota Unified Judicial System’s forms index.

These forms must be filled, carefully, legibly, and in triplicate. This is so that one copy can go to the court, one to the defendant, and one can be kept by the plaintiff. The filled forms must be taken to the local courthouse where they will be filed and a summons will be attached to them. This summons will be directed to the defendant and will require him or her to answer the complaint or proceeding being brought forward and to submit a copy of his answer to the plaintiff at the plaintiff’s address within 30 days after he has been served the summons.

Papers have been served once they have been delivered personally to the defendant. This can be done by the plaintiff or the plaintiff so desires, they can hire a process server to serve the papers. If this is done, the plaintiff will need to fill out an Affidavit of Personal Service.

In a divorce proceeding, papers can be served via mail. If this is done, the defendant must receive a copy of the papers being served, two copies of the notice, an admission of service which he or she must fill out, as well as a return envelope that is addressed to the seller and has the requisite postage stamps already on it.

Who Can Serve Family Court Papers in South Dakota State?

In the state of South Dakota, there is no license necessary in order to be able to serve family court papers. This means anyone, as long as they are over 18 and not involved in the case, can serve family court papers.

What is Contempt of Court in Family Law in South Dakota State?

Contempt of court is defined as any action or behavior that disobeys, disrespects, or denigrates the jurisdiction of a court. More often than not, actions that interfere with the ability of the court to administer justice are seen as contemptuous. According to the Statutes of the South Dakota Legislature, an individual can be held in two types of contempt: civil and criminal contempt.

1. Civil Contempt

An individual is held in civil contempt so as to force compliance with the orders and declarations of the court. When given a civil contempt sanction, the contemnor has the opportunity to forego the sanction simply by obeying the court’s orders. For instance, civil contempt can occur when a parent obstructs the other parent’s rights to visitation as ordered by the court. Conversely, it can also occur when a parent refuses to deliver the child to the other parent at the appropriate visitation end-time.

If the court finds that the individual is indeed in contempt, having known the standing orders of the court and willfully disobeying them, then a civil sanction will be issued. This sanction might order that the aggrieved parent get more residential time with the children to make up for the time wrongfully taken, or include a civil penalty that orders the offending parent to seek therapy. The sanction can be avoided if the contemnor desists from disobeying the court’s orders.

2. Criminal Contempt

An individual is held in criminal contempt when they commit any act in the presence of the court that hinders its functions to administer justice or that insults the authority of the court.

If an individual is determined to be in criminal contempt, the judge will order sanctions to punish the contemnor for their actions. These sanctions are punitive and meant to ensure that future acts of contempt are not committed. Therefore a criminal contempt sanction, once issued by the judge, must be served, whether or not the contemnor chooses to change their behavior in the future.

For instance, criminal contempt can occur if a party to the case repeatedly behaves in a disorderly manner in the presence of the court or insults the authority of the judge. This can be criminally sanctioned immediately if the sitting judge certifies that the action was conducted in his or her presence. The sanction can order that the contemnor be held in prison for not more than thirty days or can be fined for a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars.

Are Family Court Records Public in South Dakota State?

According to the South Dakota Sunshine Law, members of the public have access to criminal and civil court records by default. This excludes family law cases that deal with adoption, neglect, or abuse as they are sealed by default under statutes 15–15A–7.

How to Access Family Law Cases in South Dakota State

The State of South Dakota gives the public access to family law cases on the UJS Online Judgment Query System. Records can be accessed by creating an account and paying for search services.

Additionally, publicly available records may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

Both government websites and organizations may offer divorce and marriage records. Similarly, third party public record websites can also provide these types of records. But because third party organizations are not operated or sponsored by the government, record availability may vary. Further, marriage and divorce records are considered highly private and are often sealed, meaning availability of these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How to Obtain South Dakota Family Court Records by Mail

To get family court records by post, interested parties should:

Fill out an application form and ensure it is signed in front of a notary.

  • Attach a copy of their photo ID and include the appropriate fee.
  • Mail the request to the State Office at 207 E. Missouri, Suite1-A, Pierre, SD 57501.

Are South Dakota State Divorce Records Sealed or Public Records?

South Dakota divorce records are deemed civil court records and as such are available to the public.

How Do I Find Divorce Records in South Dakota State?

Divorce records in South Dakota are maintained by the Department of Health. These records typically include court documents and other records related to the divorce. Divorce records can be found by making a request from the Department in person, via post, online or on the phone.

To find divorce records in person, interested parties must visit the State Office at 207 E. Missouri, Suite1-A, Pierre, SD 57501. Requesters will have to:

  • Fill out and sign an application for the record
  • Pay the requisite fee.
  • Provide valid photo I.D such as State or Federal Identification.

How to Obtain South Dakota Divorce Records Online or by Telephone

Divorce records can also be requested online or over the phone through the Department of Health or by calling 1–605–773–4961. Payment can be made using all major credit cards.

Family Court Records can include marriage records and divorce records. These records contain personal information of those involved and their maintenance is critical should anyone involved wish to make changes. Because of this both marriage and divorce records can be considered more difficult to locate and obtain than other public records, and may not be available through government sources or third party public record websites.

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South Dakota Family Court Records