Guide to Child Custody Laws in Delaware
If you are a Delaware parent seeking custody of a child, you owe it to yourself to have the best information possible. Child custody laws in Delaware allow courts to award custody to either parent or both parents, so you should understand the different types of custody available. This guide will explain the types of custody available to Delaware parents so that you can continue doing research on the specific kind of custody you are seeking.
Parenting Plans and Mediation
Rather than having a judge issue a custody order, most parents in Delaware prefer to come to an agreement on their own—a cheaper and easier solution. However, while child custody laws in Delaware allow parents to develop a parenting plan, not all parents see eye to eye about custody issues.
For these parents, the family court system will usually order mediation. Mediation puts both parents in an informal setting with a third-party mediator who can keep the discussion constructive so that a parenting agreement can be constructed. Mediation will generally be ordered for any parents with a dispute about custody unless one of the parents has committed acts of domestic violence. Even if domestic violence has been found, mediation can be entered into according to child custody laws in Delaware, but only if the victim requests it.
Child custody laws in Delaware allow for the division of physical custody (where a child lives) in several different ways. Parents can generally agree to any sharing of physical custody that is acceptable to both of them and viewed as in the best interest of the child by the court.
If one parent is awarded sole or primary physical custody, generally the other parent will still have a right to regular contact with the child (more information on these child custody laws in Delaware can be found in the contact schedules section below).
If a parent has legal custody of a child, this means that they have the ability to make decisions for that child pertaining to major life issues like recreation, education, healthcare, and religion. Sometimes, one parent will be awarded sole custody, which allows that parent to make these decisions unilaterally, without the involvement of the other parent. Child custody laws in Delaware require that the non-custodial parent be kept informed of these and other relevant decisions, but they do not need to be involved in the decision making process itself.
Joint legal custody requires both parents to work together to make decisions about their child's health and well-being. Joint legal custody will generally only be given to parents who can show an ability to work together well during their divorce and custody proceedings.
A contact, or visitation, schedule will be required by the court for non-custodial parents. In most cases, visitation will include some overnight visits and often a longer visit during the summer months when a child is on school break. Visitation may be in shorter periods with supervision in cases where one parent has a history of domestic violence.