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Adoption

The intent of an adoption is to legally and permanently create a new relationship between a minor child and a new parent(s).  The law about Adoption is found within Chapter 9 of Title 13 of the Delaware Code.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Adoption Forms

Child Support

Under Delaware law, both parents have a duty to support their child until the child is 18 years of age, or, if the child is still in high school, until the child graduates or turns 19 years of age, whichever comes first.  A support action begins when one parent files a support petition, requesting the Court to order the other parent to pay child support. After the petition is filed, the Court may order genetic testing to establish paternity, if necessary.  Most parents seeking support are represented by the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE). In those cases, DCSE files all actions and pursues administrative remedies also. The Court encourages all parents seeking support to explore the services of DCSE.  (view more)

Child Support FAQ Packet
Child Support FAQ Packet (Spanish)
Child Support Forms
Application To Be Found Indigent

Custody

Under Delaware law, parents are joint natural custodians of their children. When parents live separate and apart, either or both parents may file a petition in Family Court asking that the court award custody to him/her. (view more)

Instruction Packet
Custody Forms

Custody Modification

You may only file to change custody if a custody order has already been issued by the Court.  If you have not been to the Court before regarding custody, please see the Custody Instruction Pages.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Custody Modification Forms

Criminal

Under Delaware law, charges may be brought by a complaint. A complaint is a written statement of the alleged key facts that forms the charges. Complaints are appropriate for Family Court when the defendant is less than 18 years old or when it is alleged that an adult has committed a misdemeanor crime against a child or family member. Complaints appropriate for Family Court may be filed in Family Court itself or in a Justice of the Peace Court for Family Court. A complaint filed in a Justice of the Peace Court for Family Court will be sent to Family Court. (view more)

The Juvenile Process
The Adult Process

Divorce/Annulment

Getting a divorce or an annulment is an important decision.  A divorce is the way to legally end your marriage.  An annulment is the way to have the Court declare that your marriage never existed.  Before you decide to get a divorce or annulment, you may want to meet with a family counselor.  A counselor can help you identify problem areas in your marriage and help you decide whether you should get a divorce or annulment. If you do decide to get a divorce or annulment, we recommend that you speak to an attorney to find out about your rights. (view more)

Instruction Packet
Divorce Forms

Expungement

JUVENILE EXPUNGEMENT: An order expunging a juvenile record erases a juvenile criminal record. When an expungement order is entered, the Court will order the State Bureau of Identification to delete all records of the arrest. Once your record has been expunged, you are legally entitled to report that you have never been arrested or convicted for the expunged charge(s). For information on applying for a juvenile expungement, please review the Expungement of a Juvenile Record Packet.

For information on ADULT EXPUNGEMENT, please review the Expungement of an Adult Record Packet.

Guardianship

Guardianship is the possession by a non-parent of the powers, rights, and duties which are necessary to protect, manage and care for a child. A Guardian has the legal authority to take care of the child as if he/she were the child's parent until the child turns 18 years of age.  Included in a Guardianship Order is a Custody Order. Therefore, a Guardian has the same legal authority to care for the child as a parent would. However, unlike a parent, the Guardian cannot be held liable by a third party for something the child has done wrong simply because he/she is the guardian. Additionally, the Court also has the right to limit any of the powers and duties granted to a Guardian.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Guardianship Forms

Guardianship, Permanent

The intent of Permanent Guardianship is to create a relationship between a child and a caretaker which is permanent and self-sustaining and creates a permanent family for the child without having to terminate the parental rights of the child's parents.  Only a blood relative or foster parent(s) of the child may serve as a Permanent Guardian. (view more)

Instruction Packet
Permanent Guardianship Forms

Guardianship, Standby

Standby Guardianship is a means of establishing guardianship quickly to enable a parent or guardian suffering from a progressive chronic condition or terminal illness to make plans for the permanent future care or the interim care of a child without terminating parental or legal rights.  Included in a Standby Guardianship Order is a Custody Order.  Therefore, a Standby Guardian has the same legal authority to care for the child as a parent would.  However, the Court also has the right to limit any of the powers and duties granted to a Standby Guardian.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Standby Guardianship Forms

Motions

A motion is a way to request that the Court take a specific action in a case or grant specific relief in a case.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Motions Forms

Protection From Abuse (PFA)

An Order of Protection From Abuse is an order of Family Court ordering someone to stop abusing another person, and may include other relief, such as ordering the abuser to stay away from the person being abused. Abuse is defined as any threatening or harmful conduct including serious emotional harm.  (view more)

Process
PFA Forms

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)

The intent of Termination of Parental Rights ("TPR") is to legally and permanently terminate the relationship between a child and his/her parent.  The law about TPR is found within Chapter 11 of Title 13 of the Delaware Code. After the Court issues a TPR Order, parental rights are usually then transferred to another person through an Adoption Order.  The prospective adoptive parent must file a Petition for Adoption.  Once an Adoption Order is issued, the adoptive parent then becomes the permanent legal parent of the child and will have all of the rights, duties, privileges and obligations recognized by the law between parents and their children.   The law about adoption is embodied within Chapter 9 of Title 13 of the Delaware Code.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
TPR Forms

Visitation (Parent)

When parents live separate and apart, either or both parents may file a petition in Family Court asking that the court award custody to him/her.  A visitation schedule is usually determined along with a custody decision.  If there is not a pending Petition for Custody and if a parent desires to have a specific contact schedule with the child, a Petition for Parental Visitation (form #350) may be filed.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Parent Visitation Forms

Visitation (3rd Party/Grandparent)

Any non-parent, including grandparents may file for visitation with a child if they:
  1. have a substantial and positive prior relationship with the child OR
  2. are a relative of the child
If a non-parent wishes to have visitation with a child, a Petition for 3rd Party/Grandparent Visitation (Form #172) may be filed.  (view more)

Instruction Packet
Visitation (3rd party) Forms