Like every other state in the nation, South Dakota has a host of laws that affect you as a parent. Some may enhance your parental rights, while others could land you in jail or create other civil or criminal liabilities if they are not obeyed. But how is one to know what’s the law? What’s rumor, and what’s just plain bad assumptions?
We turned to a network of experts – those in the know of what the country, state and city require of parents – to help clear up some of the biggest misconceptions about South Dakota law.
IF I DON’T HAVE A WILL, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY ASSETS – WILL THEY AUTOMATICALLY GO TO MY KIDS?
If a parent dies without a valid Will your assets will be distributed to your legal heirs, as defined by South Dakota law, explains Jennifer Tomac, attorney and founder of Tomac & Tomac, PLLC. Most people are surprised to learn that just because you are married does not mean that your husband/wife will inherit everything. If the deceased and the spouse have children together and the deceased does not have children from a previous relationship, the surviving spouse will receive the entirety of the estate. “However,” Terri Williams, a partner of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson, Ashmore, LLP goes on to explain, “if the deceased has children from another relationship, the surviving spouse will receive the first $100,000 of the probate estate and 50 percent of the remainder. The decedent children will share the remaining 50 percent.”
In the event that both parents die and there’s no Will, the probate court will appoint a guardian for the minor child. There is not a priority of appointment, any interested party may bring a petition and request appointment. The Court will determine the appointment based upon the best interest of the child, guided by consideration of the child’s temporal, mental and moral welfare. “Thus, it is imperative parents consider executing wills to ensure their intentions concerning the care of their children are met in the event each parent passes away prior to the children reaching the age of majority,” said Williams.
MY EX ISN’T PAYING CHILD SUPPORT. CAN I REFUSE TO ALLOW HER TO SEE OUR KIDS UNTIL SHE PAYS UP?
No. Child support is an obligation not tied to visitation. Williams explains it this way, “Parents have rights to parent their children and responsibilities to support their children. If a parent is not meeting his or her obligation to support a child, the custodial parent does not have the right to restrict parenting time.”
HOW OLD DO MY KIDS NEED TO BE BEFORE THEY CAN BE LEFT HOME ALONE BY THEMSELVES?
South Dakota law provides no specific recommendations, according to South Dakota Safety Council. However, the council recommends taking several factors into consideration before leaving a child home alone, including: the age, emotional maturity and capability of the child; the layout and safety of the home or play area; the child’s ability to respond to an emergency; and whether the child has any mental, physical or medical disabilities. Children should be instructed to check in immediately upon arriving home, advises the council.
HOW LONG CAN I KEEP MY KIDS HOME WITH ME BEFORE I HAVE TO SEND THEM TO SCHOOL?
South Dakota law states that kindergarten is mandatory before moving on to first grade, with all children being required to attend kindergarten before the age of 7. To be eligible for kindergarten, a student must have turned the age of 5 on or before September 1 of that same school year.
CAN I HOMESCHOOL MY KIDS?
The South Dakota Department of Education says you must file an Application for Public School Exemption Certificate, teach the required subjects, teach for an equivalent period of time to the public schools, submit standardized test results to your school district, keep good records and respond to any requests for records by the secretary of education. Parents are not required to have teaching certificates or college degrees in order to homeschool their children.