Understanding Delaware Divorce Laws
Divorce Requirements for Delaware Residents
The petitioner must file the Divorce Forms in the Delaware Family Court where both or either of the spouses has lived for at least six months prior to the filing. For military members, divorce papers may be filed in Delaware if either spouse has been stationed in the State for at least six months.
Delaware Grounds For Divorce
The state of Delaware recognizes one fault-based ground and one no-fault ground for divorce.
No-fault ground for divorce: In a marriage where you basically can’t get along and live harmoniously together and that your relationship is beyond fixing due to your differences, it can be viewed as “irretrievably broken” which is a no-fault ground for divorce. It doesn’t necessarily seek to find fault on either spouse.
Fault-based ground for divorce: Separation caused by a spouse’s misconduct such as addiction to alcohol or illegal substance, physical and verbal abuse, adultery, bigamy, failure to perform marriage obligations; separation caused by a spouse’s mental illness.
The divorce petitioner only needs to say the marriage is irretrievably broken without hope of reconciliation.
Child Custody Law in Delaware
In Delaware divorce cases where there are children involved, the parents must attend a Parent Education Class. The parties need to submit to the Delaware Family Court their certificates of completion from the Parent Education Class. Otherwise, their petition won’t be processed.
The courts may grant parents joint or sole legal and physical custody of the child, although Delaware laws acknowledge that both parents are their child’s natural custodians. Hence, even if one parent gets a sole custody, he or she must oblige if the non-custodial parent requests for information about the child’s activities like school achievements and events, medical treatment, and other pertinent information. Both parents also have the right to communicate with the child electronically such as via phone or email.
In determining child custody, the courts look into the following:
- the wishes of the parents and of the child (granted that the child is of age and is capable to making sound decisions, as determined by the court)
- the interpersonal relationship between the parent and the child
- the child’s capacity to adjust to a new environment such as a new home, school and/or community
- the mental and physical health and well-being of all involved.
Guidelines for Delaware Child Support
Delaware Family Courts use the Delaware Child Support Formula in calculating how much financial assistance the children get from their parents. In Delaware, both parents are obligated to support their children until they reach 18 or until they finish secondary school, whichever comes first. As with most states, the divorce courts in Delaware calculate child support based on official child support guidelines.
Factors to be considered include, but not limited to:
- Standard of living the child would have enjoyed if not for the parents’ divorce;
- Age and health of the parents;
- Financial status, sources of income, and earning capacity of each parent;
- Needs of the child
Where to file for a divorce?
The petitioner must file the Delaware Divorce Petition in the county where he/she or the respondent is a resident. The family courts in Delaware have jurisdiction over divorce filings before the state.
For a fast and inexpensive divorce process, you can file Delaware online divorce forms.
Refer to the “Divorce Requirements for Delaware Residents” above and also review the best online divorce sites.
Either party may agree to submit their disputed issues for mediation before or after filing the Delaware divorce forms. In the event of a contested divorce, the Delaware Family Court may delay proceedings for up to 60 days. This will allow the spouses to seek counseling or order a mediation conference.
Need information for a different state?
You may also visit the Delaware Courts for more information