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DELAWARE DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Delaware. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Delaware Made Easy (See Delaware Divorce Help Center)
- Time Frame: With a no-fault divorce, the divorce case is trial-ready after the spouses are separated for at least six months and the paperwork has been officially served.
- Where to File: Family court. "In the Family Court for the state of Delaware, in and for the _____________ County." (See Delaware Court Addresses)
- Statute Statutes: Delaware Code Title 13 Chapter 15.
- Name of Action: Petition for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Petitioner, the party who files; respondent, the other party.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: No-fault: irretrievable breakdown characterized by voluntary separation, separation caused by a spouse's misconduct or mental illness, separation caused by incompatibility; and living apart six months because of incompatibility.
- Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Divorce and Decree of Divorce. (See DE Forms List With Explanations)
- Physical Separation Required: 30 days before filing. "Temporarily sleeping in the same bedroom and resumption of sexual relations, shall not interrupt any period of living separate and apart, provided that the parties have not occupied the same bedroom or had sexual relations with each other within the 30-day period immediately preceding the filing date."
- Separation Time to File: Six months if grounds are incompatibility.
- Legal Separation Permitted: There is no legal separation in Delaware, but separation caused by mental illness is a general ground for divorce.
- Grounds: Irretrievable breakdown without hope of reconciliation. (See Delaware Laws for Divorce)
- Residency Requirement: One spouse must be a resident of the state of Delaware for at least six months before filing for divorce.
- Mediation Required: When the divorce is contested, the court may delay the action for 60 days so the spouses can seek mediation. The court may also order a mediation conference, especially if child custody is being disputed.
- Counseling Required: No, but during the 60-day stay, the parties may also seek counseling if they desire.
- Parenting Classes Required: The court mandates that parents attend a certified parenting education course in cases where there are children under 18.
- Filing Fee: $160. (See DE Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: Assistance in child support enforcement can be had at the Delaware Division of Child Support Enforcement's in New Castle, Sussex, and Kent counties, which are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: Delaware works on the Melson formula, and considers both parents responsible for supporting the children.
- Property Division: Delaware is an equitable distribution state and uses the dual classification model. Property is either separate or marital.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
- Attendance at Hearing: Sometimes. A party may file an affidavit in Support of Request to Proceed with a Hearing or Request to Proceed without a hearing in support of a request to finalize the action without a hearing. If the request is not granted, one spouse must attend a short hearing.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: Marital misconduct is not a factor in the distribution of marital property.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Service of process is made by the Sheriff or by any person not a party to the action and over 18 and licensed as a process server. Process means delivering a copy of the Summons, Petition, and Affidavit to the respondent personally or by leaving copies at his or her house or usual place of abode.
- Learn More About Delaware Divorce.
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