A child needs the support of both parents to have the best quality of life. This includes financial support, which can be especially important in providing for the child’s needs. Whether the parents are together or not, the obligation to take care of their child still stands. For this reason, the South Dakota Department of Social Services Division of Child Support (DCS) helps parents establish a financial partnership to support their children when they do not live together.
Child Support Process
In South Dakota, the Division of Child Support (DCS) – a branch of the Department of Social Services (DSS) – helps parents establish financial agreements in the form of child support, to raise their child when they do not live together. Any adult who has legal custody of a minor child in the state is eligible for child support services from the DCS. These services include locating the noncustodial parent, establishing paternity, establishing court orders for child support, enforcing established orders, etc.
Custodial parents in South Dakota who receive public assistance through programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), etc. are automatically enrolled for the child support services of DCS. Other custodial parents who seek child support need to file an application and pay a $5 fee. For parents who are applying for “location only” services, a $20 fee is charged. The application form can be downloaded from https://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/CS/SE408CPRAApplicationPacket.pdf and filled accordingly for submission. In the application, custodial parents are required to provide information about themselves and the noncustodial parent. This information includes name, date of birth, social security number, phone number, home address, employer information, etc. A section is also provided to fill in details about the child. The details of the noncustodial parent are particularly important as they can be used to track and locate the parent, thus speeding up the process. This is because a child support case cannot proceed until the noncustodial parent has been physically served a notice.
While attempting to locate the noncustodial parent, the DCS will use the information provided by the custodial parent during the application process. Specific details such as the address may come in handy. If the parent cannot be found, the DCS can crosscheck a national database for the parent’s name and employment information. Once located, a notice of child support is served, and the case can progress.
After locating the noncustodial parent, there may be a need to establish paternity for the child. This is done if the child’s paternity has not been previously established. For parents who were married, the mother’s husband is presumed by law to be the legal father of the child, except the mother has indicated a different man in her child support application. This also applies if the child was born within 10 months after the end of the mother’s marriage. For unmarried parents, if they both agree that they are the parents of the child, they can sign a Paternity Affidavit Form. Otherwise, if the parents first want proof that the man is the child’s biological father before naming him the legal father, genetic testing can be requested. If the results show a 99% or higher chance that the man is the child’s father, a legal presumption of paternity can be established. For more details on establishing paternity, see the booklet at https://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/CS/VolPatEst.pdf.
Once paternity is established, the DCS can go about establishing the child support order.
How To Receive Child Support Payments
Custodial Parents with an established child support order in South Dakota have two main options available for receiving the payments.
The first option is the Way2Go card. This is a state-issued debit card for parents who do not link a bank account to their child support case. The Way2Go card is issued by Comerica and allows parents to access their child support easily. No monthly fees are charged for the card, and it can be used like any other regular debit card, to make purchases, withdraw cash and buy items online. The funds are received on the card within 3 days of the DCS processing the payments.
The second option is the use of Direct Deposit. This allows parents receive the child support funds into an existing checking or savings account which they own.
Apart from the two options above, a third option exists for parents who would go through hardships to access funds paid to them electronically. In this case, the parents can fill an exemption request and have their checks mailed to their residential address. Going with this option is risky as the check can be stolen by anyone with access to the mailbox.
The enrollment form that provides the information on the options to the parents can be found at https://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/CS/SE431A.pdf.
Amount Receivable as Child Support
South Dakota has child support laws that establish guidelines for calculating child support obligations. These guidelines aim to determine an equitable share of resources to be dedicated to the care of the child. This would allow the child to experience a standard of living similar to what would have been applicable if the parents were together. The net income of both parents is factored into the guidelines for child support. The court may also assign certain costs like daycare, healthcare costs, medical insurance, etc. to one of the parents. A copy of the Child Support Obligation Schedule is available online at https://sdlegislature.gov/Statutes/Codified_Laws/2050097. Moreover, South Dakota hosts an online calculator as well at https://dss.sd.gov/childsupport/services/obligationcalculator.aspx.
After the support amount has been established, parents can request a modification of the order to better reflect the current financial circumstances. The modification request has a $50 fee attached to it; however, recipients of public assistance are exempted from the fee. Information on the child support guidelines and the modification procedure can be found at https://dss.sd.gov/childsupport/obligationsdetermined.aspx and https://dss.sd.gov/formsandpubs/docs/CS/SE415.pdf respectively.
Enforcement of Child Support
When noncustodial parents do not meet their child support obligations, it is the duty of the DCS to make them comply. For this purpose, there are enforcement actions that the DCS may resort to. These include automatic withdrawal of funds from the parent’s bank account (the parent must enter an agreement with DCS), reporting to credit bureaus, denial of passport applications, restriction of licenses (driver’s license, professional license, etc.), interception of tax intercept, etc. The DCS may also refer cases to a prosecutor for show cause hearing when payments have not been made for a certain period of time. This is used as a last resort and may result in a jail sentence for the parent. The enforcement actions listed above are usually applied automatically once certain criteria have been met in the child support case.