Delaware Divorce Laws
The state of Delaware has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Delaware addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Delaware divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Delaware online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Delaware, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
The Family Court of the State has jurisdiction over all actions for divorce and annulment of marriage where either petitioner or respondent, at the time the action was commenced, actually resided in this state, or was stationed in this state as a member of the armed services of the United States, continuously for 6 or more months immediately preceding the commencement of the action. The divorce may be filed in the county in which either spouse resides. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1504, 1507)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Delaware the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
The Court shall enter a decree of divorce whenever it finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that reconciliation is improbable. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1505)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Family Court for the State of Delaware, in and for __________ County.All divorce cases in the state of Delaware are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Delaware clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Family Court.
Property and Debt Division: Delaware is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
In a proceeding for divorce or annulment, the court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute and assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors including: (a) The duration of the marriage; (b) Any prior marriage of the party ; (c) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties; (d) Whether the property award is in lieu of or in addition to alimony; (e) The opportunity of each for future acquisitions of capital assets and income; (f) The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker, husband, or wife; (g) The value of the property set apart to each party; (h) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the party with whom any children of the marriage will live; (i) Whether the property was acquired by gift; (j) The debts of the parties; and (k) Tax consequences. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1504, 1513)
Changing Name: The court, upon the request of a party by pleading or motion, may order that such party resume a maiden or former name. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1514)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The alimony order shall be in such amount and for such time as the Court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, after consideration of all relevant factors, including, but not limited to: (a) The financial resources of the party seeking alimony, including the marital or separate property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet all or part of his or her reasonable needs independently; (b) The time necessary and expense required to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment; (c) The standard of living established during the marriage; (d) The duration of the marriage; (e) The age, physical and emotional condition of both parties; (f) Any financial or other contribution made by either party to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning capacity of the other party; (g) The ability of the other party to meet his or her needs while paying alimony; (h) Tax consequences; (9) Whether either party has foregone or postponed economic, education or other employment opportunities during the course of the marriage; and (10) Any other factor which the Court expressly finds is just and appropriate to consider. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 1512)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Delaware courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall determine the legal custody and residential arrangements for a child in accordance with the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, the court shall consider all relevant factors including: (a) The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his or her custody and residential arrangements; (b) The wishes of the child as to his or her custodian(s) and residential arrangements; (c) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, grandparents, siblings, persons cohabiting in the relationship of husband and wife with a parent of the child, any other residents of the household or persons who may significantly affect the child's best interests; (d) The child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community; (e) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (f) Past and present compliance by both parents with their rights and responsibilities to their child (g) Evidence of domestic violence (h) The criminal history of any party or any other resident of the household including whether the criminal history contains pleas of guilty or no contest or a conviction of a criminal offense.
The court shall not presume that a parent, because of his or her sex, is better qualified than the other parent to act as a joint or sole legal custodian for a child or as the child's primary residential parent, nor shall it consider conduct of a proposed sole or joint custodian or primary residential parent that does not affect his or her relationship with the child.
The child's rights shall be set forth in full in said affidavit as follows: (1) The right to a continuing relationship with both parents. (2) The right to be treated as an important human being, with unique feelings, ideas and desires. (3) The right to continuing care and guidance from both parents. (4) The right to know and appreciate what is good in each parent without one parent degrading the other. (5) The right to express love, affection and respect for each parent without having to stifle that love because of fear of disapproval by the other parent. (6) The right to know that the parents' decision to divorce was not the responsibility of the child. (7) The right not to be a source of argument between the parents. (8) The right to honest answers to questions about the changing family relationships. (9) The right to be able to experience regular and consistent contact with both parents and the right to know the reason for any cancellation of time or change of plans. (10) The right to have a relaxed, secure relationship with both parents without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 722)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Delaware child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The father and mother are the joint natural guardians of their minor child and are equally charged with the child's support, care, nurture, welfare and education. Each has equal powers and duties with respect to such child, and neither has any right, or presumption of right or fitness, superior to the right of the other concerning such child's custody or any other matter affecting the child.
The court will examine the following factors when considering a child support award; the financial resource of the child; the standard of living prior to the divorce; the age and health condition of each parent; the earning capacity of the parents; the age and health of the child; and the needs of the child. (Delaware Code - Title 13 - Chapters: 501, 514, 701)
Copyright Notice: These Delaware divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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