Updated May 24, 2016
Bankruptcy is a system of federal law, so the process to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is nearly identical in every state, including South Dakota. However, state law plays an important role, particularly in setting property exemptions, which determine what property you get to keep (if you file for Chapter 7) and how much you have to repay your creditors (if you file for Chapter 13). There are also important resources available to you by state.
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in South Dakota, you will have to complete mandatory credit counseling with an agency that’s been approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. Here’s a list of agencies in South Dakota that have been approved to provide this counseling.
In South Dakota, the bankruptcy courts are in Pierre and Sioux Falls. At the court’s website, you can find information on forms, local rules, and more.
Like every other state, South Dakota has its own set of property exemptions. (To learn more about how property exemptions work generally and which exemptions you may use, see Bankruptcy Exemptions: What Do I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?)
In South Dakota, you must use the state’s exemption list; although some states allow debtors to choose between the state list and a federal list, South Dakota isn’t one of them.
South Dakota allows debtors to exempt an unlimited amount of their real property or mobile home. However, the property cannot exceed 1 acre in town and 160 acres elsewhere. South Dakota also allows bankruptcy filers to exempt various items of personal property (including clothing, burial plots, food and fuel to last one year, and books to $200), among other things. Here’s a list of South Dakota exemptions.
When you file for bankruptcy, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in South Dakota. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years).
Currently, the median South Dakota income for a one-person household is around $40,000; these figures change frequently. You can find the most recent amounts on the website of the U.S. Trustee at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Means Testing Information.”
After you file for bankruptcy but before you receive your discharge, you must take a debtor education course. Like the mandatory credit counseling you must take before filing your forms, you must receive debtor education from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office. Here a list of agencies approved to provide this course in South Dakota.
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced South Dakota bankruptcy lawyer.