Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order against Defendant for stalking and remanded the case to permit the court to identify which of Defendant’s acts or conduct constituted stalking. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Plaintiff’s petition for a protection order on the grounds that some of Defendant’s actions and social media posts concerning Plaintiff amounted to stalking. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the circuit court’s order was not supported by proper findings. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court’s findings did not clearly identify how the evidence met the statutory elements of stalking, and therefore, the case must be remanded for proper findings. View "Thompson v. Bear Runner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part a dispositional order in a child abuse and neglect proceeding that awarded Mother custody of the parties’ child, with supervised visitation rights for Father. On appeal, Father argued that the circuit court erred in adjudicating him on the abuse and neglect petition and challenged the circuit court’s decision to place custody of the parties’ child with Mother and the denial of his motion to change custody. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed as to all issues raised by Father, except for one issue, holding that the circuit court erred in granting Mother custody and dismissing the case. The Court remanded that part of the dispositional order awarding Mother custody of the child with instructions for the circuit court to consider whether it should be modified to include provisions for protective supervision of the child by the South Dakota Department of Social Services under S.D. Codified Laws 26-8A-22 and/or for a protection order under S.D. Codified Laws 26-7A-107. View "In re M.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court in these divorce proceedings. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the circuit court (1) accepted Wife’s valuation of the parties’ residence, which differed from Husband’s valuation; (2) included Wife’s student loans, which were incurred before the parties were married, in the marital corpus; (3) ordered Wife to make a cash-equalization payment to Husband over time with an interest rate of four percent; (4) awarded Husband alimony on the condition that he annually release his medical and counseling records to Wife; and (5) denied Husband’s request for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) coupling the alimony award to the execution of a full waiver of Husband’s physician- and psychotherapist-patient privileges was an abuse of discretion; and (2) this case must be remanded for the circuit court to enter findings of fact and conclusion of law on Husband’s request for attorney fees. The Court otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "Osboda v. Kelley-Osboda" on Justia Law

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In this divorce action, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s valuation of a bank account on a date other than the date of divorce, the decision to recapture into the marital estate the value of home improvements made to a third party’s rental property, and the valuation of Husband’s three business interests. The Court held that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) included the value of the bank account from eleven months before trial; (2) included $15,000 of improvements made to Husband's father’s rental property; and (3) valued Husband's business interests. View "Giesen v. Giesen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the the circuit court’s classification and division of property in this divorce case in all but one respect as regards a clerical issue, which the Court remanded for clarification. Husband and Wife held most of their assets separately throughout their eighteen-year marriage. In granting them a divorce, the circuit court classified most of their assets as marital property and divided them equally. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in classifying the parties’ separately held assets as marital property; and (2) Wife was not entitled to relief on her arguments relating to the circuit court’s division and valuation of property with the exception of her argument that the circuit court erred in failing to divide and allocate three liabilities. Because the court’s failure to allocate these debts may have been a clerical error, the Supreme Court remanded the issue for the circuit court’s classification. View "Arendt v. Chamberlain" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court ordering Eryn Winegeart to sell real estate she owned jointly with her former spouse, Weston Winegeart, holding that the court did not err by ordering Eryn to sign a purchase agreement signed by a third party. After the parties underwent mediation, Weston signed an agreement with a real-estate agent to list the jointly owned real estate, and the listing agreement included a commission for the realtor. After the third party signed the purchase agreement, Eryn refused to sign it, asserting that during mediation Weston had orally agreed to sell the property without paying for a realtor. The circuit court found that the parties had not entered into an enforceable oral agreement in regard to realtor fees and ordered Eryn to sign the purchase agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err by entering its order requiring Eryn to sign the purchase agreement. View "Winegeart v. Winegeart" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting full primary physical custody of Father’s minor child to the child’s maternal grandmother (Grandmother), holding that the circuit court erroneously analyzed the custody dispute using the factors set forth in Fuerstenberg v. Fuerstenberg, 591 N.W.2d 798 (S.D. 1999), which apply only in cases between parents. The circuit court applied factors taken from Fuerstenberg to the evidence and awarded Grandmother full physical custody of the child, while granting Father liberal visitation rights. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) Grandmother possessed standing as a nonparent seeking custody due to extraordinary circumstances; (2) the circuit court erroneously applied the Fuerstenberg factors; and (3) a clearer examination of the circumstances warranting a grant of custody to grandmother under S.D. Codified Laws 25-5-29 and 25-5-30 was required. View "Howlett v. Stellingwerf" on Justia Law

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Sally Richardson alleged that her husband Michael forced her to work as a prostitute during the course of their marriage. Sally also alleged that Michael emotionally, physically, and sexually abused her, causing both humiliation and serious health problems. Sally divorced Michael on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, reserving by stipulation the right to bring other nonproperty causes of action against him. Following the divorce, Sally brought suit against Michael, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The court, bound by South Dakota Supreme Court precedent in Pickering v. Pickering, 434 N.W.2d 758, (S.D. 1989), dismissed Sally’s suit for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Pickering held IIED was unavailable as a matter of public policy when it was predicated on conduct leading to the dissolution of marriage. Finding that Pickering was “ripe for reexamination for a number of reasons,” the South Dakota Supreme Court overruled Pickering, and reversed and remanded dismissal of Sally’s suit. View "Richardson v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Father joint custody of the parties’ child and a shared parenting child support cross-credit. At the time of their divorce, Mother and Father stipulated that Mother would have primary physical custody of the parties’ child. Five years later, Father filed a motion for change of child custody, support, and visitation, seeking a shared-parenting custody arrangement and application of a shared parenting child support cross-credit under S.D. Codified Laws 25-7-6.27. The circuit court allowed Father the cross-credit and ordered joint physical custody. In so doing, the court reduced Father’s child support payment to Mother from $442 per month to $25 per month. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court’s findings of fact did not support its conclusions of law, namely, that applying the cross-credit was appropriate in this case under the circumstances set forth in section 25-7-6.27. View "Sigler v. Sigler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in this divorce case awarding Husband his interest in an LLC, requiring Husband to pay twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt, and ordering Husband to make a cash-equalization payment. Husband appealed the judgment, arguing that the circuit court erred in its division of the marital property. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in valuing Husband’s interest in an LLC; (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding Wife one-half the value of the marital assets; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in making Husband responsible for twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt. View "Richarz v. Richarz" on Justia Law