Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald
Third parties – somebody other than a parent - may still obtain custody or visitation of a child pursuant to South Dakota statutes; the South Dakota Supreme Court recently reversed a Circuit Court decision which declared the statutes unconstitutional.
SDCL 25-5-29 and 25-5-30 set out the circumstances permitting non-parents to obtain visitation or custody. It's presumed to be in the best interest of a child to be in the care, custody, and control of his or her parent. The presumption can be rebutted when there is parental unfitness or "extraordinary circumstances." The statutes are constitutional, according to our Supreme Court, because they require that ‘special weight" be given to a fit parent's decisions regarding her child.
The bottom line to this very difficult issue is that custody or visitation may still be awarded to someone other than a parent if the circumstances warrant it within the framework set out by South Dakota statutes.
To read more, see Feist and Lemieux-Feist v. Lemieux- Feist, Fousek and State of South Dakota, 2010 S.D. 104.
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