South Dakota, like most states, has a tough stance on domestic violence and abusive parents. Whenever custody matters are involved, the goal of the child custody ruling is always to act in the child’s best interest. And this usually involves providing a safe and secure environment for the child. As such, while making a custody ruling, the judge will always consider past incidents of domestic violence and presume that the child’s best interest may not be served while in the care of the violent or abusive parent.
Before the court can award custody to a parent with a history of domestic violence, he or she must assure the court that the child will be safe in their care and that having custody will be in the child’s best interest. Here are some of the ways in which domestic violence can impact custody in South Dakota.
Supervised visitation restriction
One of the common restrictions for an abusive parent is the requirement that any visitation with their child must be overseen by a court-appointed supervisor. This supervised visitation may be short or long-term and can be lifted when the parent in question demonstrates good behavior and the court is convinced that unsupervised visitation would serve in the child’s best interest.
Termination of parental rights
In extreme cases of domestic violence or neglect, a parent may be stripped of their parental rights altogether. This is a serious penalty that cannot be undone once issued. Some of the circumstances that might lead to termination of parental rights include:
- Severe torture or abuse that results in bodily and mental injury to the child
- Subjecting the child to sexual abuse
- A history of chronic substance abuse or child neglect
- Criminal behavior that results in long-term incarceration and inability to care for the child
- Exposing the child to substantial harm
Regardless of its form, domestic abuse can leave a lasting scar on the victim. Understanding your rights and obligations can help you take appropriate actions to safeguard your child’s best interest during custody hearing.