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  • Writer's pictureVer Beek Law, Prof. L.L.C.

South Dakota Court Ordered Parenting Classes: Big Changes to Divorce in 2023.

What you should know about filing for divorce in 2023: are you exempt from South Dakota's divorce parenting classes?

Effective September 1st, 2022, South Dakota adopted new statewide requirements for parenting education programs in cases involving child custody or visitation (parenting time).

The news quickly followed the recent announcement of the new South Dakota Parenting Guidelines in July 2022. [Reference Blog Post: Big Changes to South Dakota Parenting Guidelines.]

Who is required to take the parenting classes?

The South Dakota law requires "all parties to any action involving the issue of child custody or parenting time" to complete a court-approved parenting course. The new requirement applies to cases filed on or after September 1, 2022, and supersedes any requirements previously adopted by individual Circuits. (Participation in the course is not required for a protection order proceeding or a proceeding involving the termination of parental rights.)

Can I be excused from taking divorce parenting classes in South Dakota?

The only way to be excused from taking parenting classes by the court is for "good cause" which will allow waiving or delaying the parenting classes.

What is considered "good cause" to waive the parenting course requirement?

"Good cause" includes but is not limited to one or more parties previously participating in a court-approved course (or equivalent) within the past 5 years. It's important to note that if "good cause" is found, the court may order that the information "be provided to the parties in an alternative format."

How do I request a waiver to be exempt from the parenting course requirement?

The court must approve a request to waive the requirement. The "Affidavit on Court-Approved Parenting Course" form must be completed and found on the UJS website here: UJS 364 - Affidavit on Court-Approved Parenting Course.pdf (

How long do divorce parenting classes take?

The time it takes to complete parenting classes is not specifically outlined as there are various courses available, however, the course must be completed within 60 days of serving the summons and complaint, petition, or motion for any action involving child custody or parenting time.

Parenting Course 101: Choose, Pay, & Complete

  1. CHOOSE YOUR COURSE The UJS website has a list of approved parenting classes here:

  2. PAY FOR YOUR COURSE Yes, each party is responsible for the payment of their course. If a party cannot afford the course, contact the course providers directly and ask about reduced or discounted prices. The clerk of court or court cannot waive this fee.

  3. COMPLETE YOUR COURSE Participants will receive a certificate of completion once the course is successfully completed. Certificates are to be presented to the clerk of courts in the county where the court case is pending. Each party is responsible for filing the certificate with the court.

A final decree or order cannot be entered until both parties have complied with this requirement and submitted a certificate of completion OR the Court has approved waiver of the course upon a showing of good cause.

Full Parenting Education Class FAQs Press Release:

South Dakota Unified Judicial System Parenting Classes Information Page:

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.


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