Getting a divorce can look very different depending on what state you live in. In Wilmington or New Castle County, Delaware, specific laws determine when and why you can file for divorce.
Navigating the state’s divorce laws can be difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. With help from a family law attorney, you and your spouse can get through this process.
Mixed fault state
Delaware is a mixed state in terms of fault for causing a divorce, meaning you may choose to file for a fault or no-fault divorce at your discretion. For a fault divorce, you must list the grounds for seeking the split. This can be advantageous if you plan on using your spouse’s fault against him or her when seeking child custody, marital property or alimony.
Deadline for contesting the divorce
According to state laws, if you are the one filing for divorce, your spouse has 20 days maximum to respond to the petition to contest your proposed terms. If your spouse fails to file a response within 20 days of receiving the petition, the courts will proceed with an uncontested divorce. This means the courts treat it as if your spouse agreed to your terms.
Property division laws
One of the most common questions among divorcing couples is how the courts will split marital property. Delaware is an equitable distribution state. Instead of dividing property 50/50, the courts take into account a number of factors to distribute marital property as they deem fair:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s income and vocational skills
- Each spouse’s debts
- The contribution of each party to the marriage
- Fault for causing the divorce
The Delaware family courts will allow you and your spouse to work out your own property distribution agreement before taking your case to trial. If you cannot come to a compromise, however, the task falls to a judge. A lawyer could help you and your spouse reach an agreement during mediation.