Delaware Divorce Steps

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A marriage is an important phase in any individual's life. It is made with commitment and love that is expected to last for a lifetime. But, sometimes things go wrong between partners and the marriage is broken down virtually. In this case, spouses opt for a separation as an option to end this commitment officially. This procedure includes many steps. Here is brief information about the steps for ending a marriage in Delaware.

Initialization of Delaware Divorce Steps

A divorce is initialized when a divorcing partner files a petition for dissolution in a courthouse. There are specific residency requirements to be followed while applying for a separation from the spouse. The requirement of residency in Delaware state is of six months or more. That means a resident of the state for consecutive six months is eligible to file for a divorce.

Some of the addresses where such an initialization can take place are as follow:

Family Court of the State of Delaware (in Sussex County)
22 The Circle
Georgetown, Delaware 19947

Family Court of the State of Delaware (in New Castle County)
500 N. King Street
Wilmington, Delaware 19899

Family Court of the State of Delaware (in Kent County)
400 Court Street
Dover, Delaware 19901

Delaware Divorce Steps in case of Uncontested Divorce

The petition is considered to be of an uncontested divorce, if one of the following two things happens:

  • The Respondent files an answer within 20 days of receiving the petition for getting divorced and in the answer accedes to the request of separation
  • The Respondent does not file an answer within 20 days of receiving the petition. It is considered as the absence of the spouse. The case will continue further without taking into account the other partner. If partner files an answer after the given period, it is not taken as valid

When it is concluded that the permanent separation is an uncontested one, the Petitioner can choose one of the following two steps:

  • The court may hold a hearing that must be attended by the Petitioner as well as the Respondent. After this hearing, the court takes its decision regarding the matter. The whole proceeding takes less time as there is no need to present the case and prove the fault of a partner
  • The court need not schedule a hearing. The court should consider the papers that have been filed by the Petitioner and the Respondent and take the final decision regarding the petition

In an uncontested divorce, it is essential that partners agree on the terms of dissolution of the union mutually. If there is any dispute regarding issues of property and children, the case will be converted to the contested one.

Divorce Steps regarding Visitation or Child Custody

Parents are regarded as natural custodians of the child as per the law in this state. However, if the parents reside separate and apart, they desire custody or visitation and approach the court regarding the same:

  • The parent, who aims for custody, should file Form 345 (Petition for Custody)
  • The parent, who intends visitation, must file Form 350 (Petition for Visitation)

When one of the above mentioned forms is filed in the family court, this court serves a Preliminary Injunction to both the divorcing partners. This injunction comprises of the following orders:

  • Both the divorcing parents must attend a "Parenting Education Class". This is training program which may help them to manage single parenting and protecting the children from the harmful consequences of a separation
  • When the custody or visitation processes are pending in the court, no parent can permanently remove the child from this state in the absence of permission from the court and the other parent

The next step is to undergo a mediation hearing. During this step, the mediator explains the language and content of the Standard Visitation Guidelines referred to by the court. The mediator then helps the divorcing partner to reach an agreement regarding these issues:

  • If the parents succeed in reaching an agreement, a consent order is drafted by the mediator and both the partners put down their signatures on it
  • Consider that the partners fail to reach an agreement. Then, the following steps are taken:
    • The mediator advises a temporary schedule that would remain in force till the next court hearing
    • The Petitioner must attend a Parenting Education program
    • The Petition is forwarded to the judge
    • A complete hearing is scheduled at a latter date

Thus, it is necessary to get a clear idea about a process of dissolution in Delaware in order to obtain an easy and hassle-free dissolution. Delaware divorce steps are applicable to the contested case also. But, there may be slight variations according to the type of divorce.

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