Delaware Divorce Laws – What Your Need to Know!
In Delaware, there are two options for couples to end their marriage or civil union: divorce and annulment. Each may be contested or uncontested. If an annulment is granted by a Delaware court, it will be as if the marriage never occurred; however, there are specific requirements that must be met to have an annulment granted.
What Are the Residency Requirements in Delaware to File for Divorce?
Delaware requires that either you or your spouse has lived in the state for a minimum of six months before filing for an annulment or divorce. If you or your spouse is stationed in Delaware because you are a member of the military, then one of you must have been stationed in the state for six months before filing for an annulment or divorce.
For those in civil unions, there is still a six-month residency requirement. However, if you and your spouse do not live in the state, and you want to end your civil union, the state you currently live in must not allow for the dissolution of civil unions and you must have been joined in a civil union in Delaware.
Does Delaware Have a Legal Separation Period?
Yes, Delaware does required a period of six months in which you and your spouse have been separated. This does not mean that the two of you have to live apart, but it does mean that you and your spouses have not had sexual relations with each other and that a bedroom is not shared by the two of you.
There is an exception to this requirement, though. If you or your spouse is using misconduct for the grounds of the divorce or annulment, then the separation period may be waived. Grounds for misconduct include:
- Physical abuse
- Mental abuse
- Psychological abuse
Any allegation of misconduct must be proven before a court will grant a divorce on this ground.
What Is a Contested Annulment or Divorce
A contested annulment or divorce means that the person not filing the original petition has filed an answer within 20 days to the petition. He or she does not agree with what is stated in the original petition, either in part or whole, and wants to challenge it. This will ensure that a hearing is automatically scheduled.
What Is an Uncontested Annulment or Divorce?
An uncontested annulment or divorce may be sought if the person who did not file the original petition did not respond with an answer to the court within 20 days. An answer may also be filed stating that he or she agrees with the divorce request. The petitioner may ask the court to grant an annulment or divorce after a hearing. The petitioner is required to attend this hearing; however, the respondent is not required to. If both sides are in agreement with the annulment or divorce request, the court may be asked to grant the divorce without an appearance by either party.
Are There Additional Requirements if There Are Children Involved?
Yes. If there are children resulting from the marriage or civil union, then a Parent Education Class must be completed by each party. The divorce will not be allowed to proceed until certificates of completion are submitted to the court. The sooner this class is completed, the sooner the divorce can proceed.
A divorce or annulment can be acrimonious, but a family law attorney can help ensure that one’s rights are protected. This includes asking the court for child custody, child support, property division or spousal support. Your divorce attorney in Delaware can provide more information on what is needed to expedite the process.