Deciding to adopt is a momentous decision. Welcoming another’s child into your family and accepting them into your home involves a commitment of time, care, and love. It’s also a major legal commitment. State laws govern the adoption process to ensure a child’s best interests are met and to satisfy the state that an adoptive parent is capable and suitable for the role.
All states have their own legal systems and laws, but for the most part the adoption process is similar from state to state. This is a brief summary of South Dakota’s adoption laws.
South Dakota Adoption Laws
South Dakota generally allows any adult to adopt any minor child. There are some restrictions, however. First and foremost, the best interest of the child is the main concern in any proposed adoption. Making this determination in the main reason why adoption processes tend to be lengthy and involve legal proceedings. Second, the adopting parent must be at least ten years older than the adoptive child.
Additionally, adopting parents who are married must also have the consent of their spouse before an adoption can occur. These restrictions exist to protect children and ensure that they’re adopted into suitable families and homes. Once an adoption occurs, the adoptive parents and adopted child share the same rights and duties as any other parent-child relationship. South Dakota also permits adults to adopt other adults.
South Dakota’s adoption process can be lengthy. Natural (birth) parents must ordinarily consent to the adoption of a child, and children twelve years of age and older must consent to the adoption as well. This can take time, though a court can waive parental consent in some circumstances (such as a parent’s imprisonment, drug addiction, or neglect).
There’s also a period of residency requirement – children must live in the home of the proposed adoptive parent for at least six months before a court will grant an adoption petition. Legal proceedings can take time as well. There’s the adoption petition, a required home study, hearings to determine the suitability of the adoptive parent and the best interests of the child, and often witnesses required before a court will issue an adoption order. These proceedings take time, and using an attorney is recommended for any court proceedings.
|Code Section||25-6-1, et seq.|
|Who May be Adopted||Any person.|
|Age That Child’s Consent Becomes Necessary||13 years and older.|
|Who May Adopt||Any adult may adopt any child who is at least 10 years younger. Any adult may adopt another adult with the latter’s consent. Spousal consent is required to adopt.|
|Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption?||Yes, at least 6 months is required.|
|State Agency/Court||Social Services/Circuit Court.|
|Statute of Limitations to Challenge||2 years except in cases of fraud.|
Related Resources for Adoption Laws
Adoption is a major decision and a time-consuming process. It's a good idea to carefully research adoption laws and the legal process for adopting no matter where you might be in the adoption process. We also recommend using a family law attorney to guide you through the adoption process.
Contact a qualified attorney.