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Where to Find Family Court Records In South Dakota

In South Dakota, Family Courts are divisions of Circuit Courts that have jurisdiction over cases related to interpersonal relationships and domestic life. Court officials have the responsibility of keeping accurate records of these cases. Interested public members may retrieve these records from their official custodian or private repositories affiliated with the public agency.

What Is Family Law In South Dakota?

South Dakota Family Law refers to statutes that define how the judiciary resolves disputes between spouses and family members. The law also outlines the legal consequences of such conflicts. South Dakota Family Law Title 25 (Domestic Relations) of the South Dakota Codified Laws comprises several laws that govern family legal issues. Some examples of these issues are as follows:

  • Personal Rights
  • Limitation of Abortion
  • Marriage Contract
  • Annulment of Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Domestic Violence
  • Civic Remedies for Child Support
  • Paternity Acknowledgement

What Are Family Court Cases and Records in South Dakota?

In some disputes, family members go to court to seek judicial authorization, enforcement, or objective protection. These family disputes are called family court cases. Family court records refer to the official documentation of every action by all parties involved in the case. These records include all motions, petitions, affidavits, transcripts of proceedings, witness statements, briefs by lawyers, and judges’ notes. All of these documents are public information, and anyone may retrieve them from the official custodian or online repository unless sealed by court order or state statute. Some common family court cases in South Dakota involve:

  • Divorce
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Parental rights and responsibilities
  • Paternity disputes
  • Child support
  • Domestic violence
  • Adoption

Are Family Court Cases Public Records In South Dakota?

Yes, according to the South Dakota Open Government Act, members of the public may request to obtain non-confidential records, including court records, from their designated custodians. However, exceptions apply to records that contain sensitive information or private information that outweigh the public’s right to access records under the Act. Nevertheless, if the individual can demonstrate legitimate interests in the record and obtain a court order, they may access it. Otherwise, the designated custodian will decline access.

For example, divorce records are generally public records. However, if the document contains confidential information such as alimony amount or financial statements, the court may place it under seal. In some cases, the designated custodian may redact parts of the record that contain sensitive information. The custodian redacts details on a record-by-record basis. On the other hand, the custodian will decline requests to view adoption records if the requester is not named on the record or statutorily allowed access.

How Do I Find Family Court Records In South Dakota?

In South Dakota, the interested individual must first pinpoint the record’s location and its designated custodian to family court records. In South Dakota, this is typically the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county where the case was filed. The requester may use the Court Finder to locate a county and its judicial circuit.

The next step is contacting the custodian to inquire about available means of obtaining copies, specific requirements, and associate fees to copy or certify the record. This information is mostly available on the county’s official website and the state’s judiciary website. The Court Finder is also useful in this step.

Family courts typically process in-person requests at the Clerk’s Office during business hours of a workday. General requirements for in-person requests include a written request, photo ID, and payment (money order, check, or cash). The requester will see a complete list of associated fees on the official fee schedule’s second page. In addition to copying fees, the court charges a non-refundable search fee of $20.00 per name.

For each request, the interested party must provide the essential information to facilitate the record search. Essential information includes filing date, hearing date, case number, docket number, names of individuals on the record or the litigants, and the presiding judge’s name. The more detailed the information provided, the easier it is for the Clerk’s Office to find the specific record that the requester seeks. The custodian will decline requests to access sealed family court records unless the requester presents a court order that grants them access to that specific record. To obtain a court order, the requester must convince the judge that they have legal interests in the sealed record.

For email and mail requests, the requester must enclose a completed request form with the necessary information to facilitate the search and a photo ID in a self-addressed stamped envelope. They must also attach a cashier’s check or money order for the applicable fees. The Clerk’s Office will not process a request unless all associated costs have been paid in full. Generally, the Clerk’s Office charges $2.00 for each certified copy, $2.00 for each authenticated copy, and $20.00 search fee per name. For example, to find a family court record in Yankton County, direct requests to:

Yankton County Clerk of Court

410 Walnut Street, Suite 205

Yankton, SD 57078–4390

Phone: (605) 668–3080

Fax: (605) 668–5411


How Do I Find Family Court Records Online?

Interested requesters may use the South Dakota Public Access Record Search (PARS) portal. A $20.00 search fee also applies, and requesters must pay before the system returns search results. To query the database, users may register free or continue as guests. They must also provide case or party information to perform a search.

Records that are considered public may also be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching less complicated, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said record is juvenile case information
  • The location or assumed location of the person’s record involved, including information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or where the offense occurred.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Is South Dakota Custody Law?

South Dakota Custody Law designates custody and visitation rights to parents in the event of a divorce, separation, or annulment. South Dakota custody law is not biased towards either parent. Instead, the law encourages parents to arrive at a mutual or court-mediated parenting plan. In determining custody, the court will weigh several factors, including parent’s fitness, familial affection, age of the child, the effect of the custody on the child’s education, and all-round growth. Parents may petition the court for a modification of custody with good cause.

Furthermore, South Dakota considers domestic violence, neglect, substance abuse, and criminal history in granting sole custody. Victims of domestic violence may also file for a protection order. South Dakota custody records are confidential information. Thus, it is not accessible to ineligible requesters without a court order or subpoena.

How to Find Family Court Lawyers in South Dakota

The State Bar of South Dakota helps members of the public with family law attorneys near them. To get started, visit Find a Lawyer or contact a representative of the Lawyer Referral Service at:

State Bar of South Dakota’s Lawyer Referral Service

222 E Capitol Avenue #3

Pierre, SD 57501

Phone: (800) 952–2333

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