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25-4-56Custody and visitation disputes--Mediation order--Exceptions--Investigation--Allocation of costs.

In any custody or visitation dispute between parents, the court shall order mediation to assist the parties in formulating or modifying a plan, or in implementing a plan, for custody or visitation and shall allocate the cost of the mediation between the parties. However, mediation shall not be ordered if:

(1)    One of the parents has been convicted of domestic abuse as defined in subdivision 25-10-1(1); or

(2)    One of the parents has been convicted of assault against a person as defined in subdivision 25-10-1(2), except against any person related by consanguinity, but not living in the same household; or

(3)    One of the parents has a history of domestic abuse; or

(4)    Mediation is not readily available or the court determines that mediation is not appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The court may also direct that an investigation be conducted to assist the court in making a custody or visitation determination and shall allocate the costs of such investigation between the parties. A history of domestic abuse may only be proven by greater convincing force of the evidence.

Source: SL 1989, ch 218; SDCL Supp, § 26-5A-31; SL 1994, ch 193; SL 2008, ch 123, § 1.

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