South Dakota is considered to be a relatively permissive state with regard to grandparents' rights.
Grandparents can be granted reasonable rights of visitation with their grandchild, with or without petition by the grandparents. As in all of the 50 states, the court must find visitation to be in the best interests of the grandchild. In addition, in South Dakota, the court must make one of the two following findings:
- That the child's parent or guardian has denied visitation or has prevented the grandparent from having a "reasonable opportunity" for visitation
- That the visitation will not "significantly interfere" with the parent-child relationship.
Following the Supreme Court decision of Troxel v. Granville, the constitutionality of South Dakota's statute was challenged. The Supreme Court of South Dakota upheld the law, saying that it was not overly broad like the Washington statute challenged in Troxel v. Granville. In a 2010 case, however, the same court relied heavily on Troxel when it reversed a lower court decision giving grandparents visitation. In the case In re: A.L. and S.L.-Z, the court stated that grandparents "bear the ultimate burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that special factors exist showing that the visitation they seek is in the child's best interests." [emphasis added]
Grandparents rights of visitation terminate upon the adoption of a grandchild, unless the adopting party is a stepparent or grandparent. See South Dakota Codified Laws, Section 25-4-54.