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Divorce in Delaware

Divorce in Delaware



In the past decade, Delaware’s divorce laws have experienced significant reforms, reflecting the state’s commitment to modernizing its legal framework while ensuring fairness, transparency, and the well-being of families. From property division to child custody, these changes underscore Delaware’s dedication to addressing evolving societal dynamics. This article provides an overview of the key updates in Delaware’s divorce laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, presented in bullet points:

2013 – Introduction of No-Fault Divorce:

   – Adoption of “no-fault” divorce, allowing couples to seek dissolution without assigning blame or fault.

2014 – Child Custody Guidelines Enhancement:

   – Introduction of comprehensive child custody guidelines prioritizing the best interests of the child.

   – Emphasis on shared parenting arrangements and co-parenting cooperation.

2015 – Equitable Property Distribution Criteria:

   – Strengthened rules for the equitable division of marital property during divorce proceedings.

   – Consideration of factors such as contributions, duration of marriage, and individual needs.

2016 – Alimony Guidelines Implementation:

   – Introduction of alimony guidelines to ensure transparent and consistent spousal support awards.

   – Factors like duration of marriage, financial situations, and earning potential are considered.

2017 – Acceptance of Digital Documentation:

   – Adoption of provisions allowing digital documentation and electronic signatures in divorce proceedings.

2018 – Comprehensive Parenting Plans Focus:

   – Implementation of detailed parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.

   – Prioritization of the child’s well-being and stable upbringing.

2019 – Streamlined Divorce Procedures:

   – Introduction of measures to expedite the divorce process, reducing unnecessary delays.

2020 – Regular Child Support Guideline Reviews:

   – Periodic review and adjustment of child support guidelines to reflect changing economic realities.

2021 – Strengthening Domestic Violence Protections:

   – Enhancement of provisions safeguarding victims of domestic violence during divorce proceedings.

2022 – Online Filing and Resource Accessibility:

    – Introduction of online divorce filing options for improved accessibility and convenience.

    – Provision of online resources to assist couples navigating the divorce process.

2022 – Promotion of Alternative Dispute Resolution:

    – Encouragement of mediation and collaborative approaches to minimize adversarial litigation.

2023 – Alimony Guidelines Review:

    – Consideration of updates to alimony guidelines to ensure fairness and adequacy in award determinations.

2023 – Special Considerations for Military Divorces:

    – Implementation of measures addressing unique aspects of military divorces, including deployment and benefits.

2023 – Complex Financial Divorces:

    – Exploration of specialized guidelines for high-asset or intricate financial divorces.

Delaware’s divorce laws have evolved significantly in the past decade, reflecting the state’s commitment to modernizing its legal framework while prioritizing fairness and the well-being of all parties involved. These changes underscore Delaware’s proactive approach to addressing the complexities of divorce in contemporary society. As the state continues to adapt its laws, it remains essential for stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to engage in informed discussions that uphold the principles of justice and equity, supporting families through the divorce process.

Residency and Filing Needs

There are some aspects of Divorce in Delaware does have a specific requirement needing to be met in order for a ‘Petitioner’ to file for divorce against a ‘Respondent.’ Here it is:

• Divorce may proceed in the county of either party, but either the Respondent or Petitioner must have been a resident of the state six or more months prior to commencement of the divorce proceeding.

Reasons for Divorce in Delaware

Many states categorize divorce into two possibilities: No-Fault, or Fault. Delaware, however, simply states these stipulations:

1) Voluntary Separation

2) Separation Due to Misconduct of Respondent

3) Separation Due to Mental Illness of Respondent

4) Or Separation Caused by Incompatibility Issues

The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce”

Some couples may choose to “legally separate” over “divorce.” Why? Because certain benefits are retained in a ‘legal separation.’

When a couple legally separates by law, they’re living independently, separately, without any dependence on each other – but the marriage remains intact. That’s the basic definition of a ‘legal separation.’

This, of course, usually leads to a divorce petition.

The Primary Documents For a Divorce in Delaware

Typically, ten or twenty documents may be required, not limited to these:

• Family Court Information Sheet

• Marital Settlement Agreement

• Affidavit of Appearance and Waiver of Rights

• Custody Separate Statement

• Stipulation to Incorporate Settlement Agreement

• Petition for Divorce

• Decree of Divorce

• And If Appropriate, a Non-Military Affidavit

Divorce in Delaware : Property Distribution

Property distribution is handled for divorce in Delaware through the use of “equitable distribution,” which simply means that all assets are divided between both the Petitioner and Respondent fairly. Monetary value isn’t necessarily a driving force in determining who gets what here. Rather, what is fair and just matters more.

Although the court will stipulate that a Petitioner and Respondent can come to an agreement on property distribution without regard to the “equitable distribution” standard.

Divorce in Delaware : On the Subject of Spousal Support

This would only be a relevant issue to discuss in court if either party sees the need for it or if the court sees a need for it. Each case is different, and no divorce guarantees the prospect of alimony.

Dealing With Child Custody

Generally speaking, parents can come to an agreement on this matter regarding divorce in Delaware in several ways:

• Sole Physical Custody

• Joint Physical Custody

• Sole Legal Custody

• Joint Legal Custody

Sole Physical Custody is exactly what it sounds: one parent retains the actual ‘physical’ residence of the child(ren). That parent is then responsible for all physical responsibilities – food, clothing, transportation, health. Typically, the non-custodial parent would need to pay child support as well.

Joint Physical Custody is when both parents share those physical rights. And typically child support isn’t ordered for either parent.

Sole Legal Custody is an entirely different issue, one that revolves around the long-term. Rather than ‘transportation,’ it focuses on where the child(ren) will be transported to – like summer camps, extracurricular activities, what kind of church the family goes to, what kind of school the child(ren) attend, what doctor the child(ren) see. Sole legal custody can even change the last name of a child(ren), if requested. Only one parent has all these rights; the other retains none.

Joint Legal Custody, however, is when both parties share those responsibilities.

Divorce in Delaware : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary

In the state of Delaware, all non-custodial parents have to pay child support under a Percentage of Income Formula, combining all sources of income and taking a percentage of that income and ordering that amount for support monthly.

However, both the Petitioner and Respondent may agree to a certain amount.