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How the Amount of Child Support You Receive Is Determined

Drew Duncan
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan and Cole, LLP

If you are considering filing for divorce or separating from a partner you have a child with, a major concern will most likely be the amount you can expect to receive in child support if you will be primarily responsible for your child. Like in other states, both parents are expected to support their children in South Dakota. The non-custodial parent is the one who pays child support payments. This is the parent who spends less than half of the time with his children. While the custodial parent has a duty to support her children too, it is assumed that this parent spends the required amount directly on the children, so no child support payments are required. Parents are obligated to pay child support until a child is 18 years old or until 19 years old if he has not graduated from high school.

What Income Is Considered in Determining Child Support Obligations?

Courts in South Dakota use South Dakota Child Support Official Guidelines in determining the amount of child support a non-custodial parent should pay. This amount is based on the net income of both parents, which is the gross income less allowable deductions. Gross income includes:

  • Salary
  • Wages
  • Commissions, bonuses, and overtime—if a regular source of income
  • Military pay allowances
  • Dividends, interest, and capital gains
  • Rent
  • If self-employed, income is based on the business’ gain, profit, or loss

How Is Child Support Calculated?

The South Dakota Department of Social Services provides a child support calculator and worksheet to help estimate the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation under the Child Support Guidelines. There are additional worksheets to use if there is a split custody child support obligation, where each parent has primary custody of one or more children or a shared parenting plan where the children reside with each parent at least 180 nights per year.

Even if you are able to use the worksheets to estimate your spouse’s child support obligation, the net income calculation is often not black and white. That is why you need an experienced family law attorney who understands the nuances in setting child support obligations and how to handle more complicated financial situations, like when income should be imputed to your spouse. Start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our family law attorneys.


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