Individuals who are considering divorce often feel uncertain about the future. After all, the end of a marriage often results in changes in parenting time, financial issues or even a move to a new home or city.
Prepare for the next steps by understanding the laws governing divorce in Delaware. You can file here if you and/or your spouse has been living in the state for a minimum of six months, including members of the military living here on duty.
Couples must live separately for at least six months before filing for a divorce in Delaware. However, the court will waive this separation period if you have evidence of misconduct in the marriage. Actions that constitute misconduct include:
• Psychological abuse
• Physical abuse
Either spouse can file a petition for divorce in the county where he or she resides. If the other spouse contests the divorce, the court will schedule a hearing. If the other spouse agrees to the divorce or does not file an answer within 20 days of receiving notice of the divorce petition, the court considers the divorce uncontested.
Parents who are divorcing must attend an approved parent education class and provide the court with a completion certificate. If they cannot agree on a shared custody schedule, the court will decide based on the best interest of the child. This standard considers the following:
• The wishes of the child if he or she is 5 or older
• The wishes of the parents
• History of domestic violence, abuse and/or criminal behavior
• The child’s ties to his or her home, school and community
• The child’s relationship with other family members
• The physical and mental health of both parents
• Each parent’s history of fulfilling parental responsibilities
Adultery and other acts of marital misconduct do not influence the court’s custody determination. The court determines child support separately from child custody depending on the income and standard of living of each parent as well as the amount of parenting time.