South Dakota child support: Mom shares story of how and when to ask for modification

South Dakota child support: Mom shares lesson of when and how to apply for a modification
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -When Shawna Diedrich called the Department of Social Services to get a copy of her records, she had no thoughts about asking for a modification in what she receives.

“Well the lady goes, ‘Oh let me just pull this up’ and she goes, ‘Well I’ll print out the dates you need,’ and she goes, ‘You’re you’ve never been modified’ and I said, ‘When does that happen?” said Diedrich.

That’s when Diedrich learned that it had been 11 years since the last child support payments were set, and she’d likely been eligible for modification for many years.

“You got to take matters into your own hands and do it yourself,” said Diedrich.

Requesting a change in child support can happen after certain criteria are met, according to Virgena Wiesler, DSS Division of Children and Family Services Chief.

“One, the order was put into place prior to July 1, 2017. And then the other opportunity to modify is if there’s been three years that have passed since the order was put into place, or if there’s been a substantial change in the circumstances,” said Wiesler.

The paperwork can look intimidating without help.

“But when you open that up is a big envelope. And a lot of court stuff and it’s kind of scary. So she actually got the form and put little sticky notes on everything I had to find and sign and made it really simple for me,” said Diedrich.

Wiesler says you can use an attorney if you’d like, but there is other help available.

“To get assistance on doing the modification process, or if they’re already involved with a child support specialist and one of our local offices, they can work through that child support specialists,” said Wiesler.

South Dakota DSS uses a formula to determine child support payments.

“South Dakota uses a shared income to establish that support obligation. So they look at the income of both parents they look at the custodial parent’s income and the non-custodial parent’s income,” said Wiesler.

A parent, who is able to work, has a minimum payment per month based on an economist’s cost of living guideline.

“At that 35 hours a week at minimum made wage. And if you look at that piece then it would be $321,” said Wiesler.

Diedrich’s child support for her two children increased by 500 dollars per month, something that could have happened sooner if she was aware of when and why she could modify it. She also knows other parents find their circumstances to be unfair.

“Did you know it goes both ways. I do know that some dads out there are getting. They’re giving way more than they probably should, and it’s not being used for kids,” said Diedrich.

And that’s where the Child Support Commission comes in. As a parent, you can testify at an upcoming meeting, either in person or remotely. Registration is required by October 21st.

“Child support guidelines...they look at all the child support statutes to see if there are any things are there are recommendations for amendments,” said Wiesler.

Federal regulations are also reviewed. It all goes to the legislature for possible changes during the next legislative session.

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