Delaware Divorce Laws

Title 13 Domestic Relations

Subchapter II. Premarital Agreements

13 Del. C. § 321. Definitions.

As used in this subchapter:

(1) "Premarital agreement" shall mean an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage, and which is effective upon marriage.

(2) "Property" shall mean an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, including income and earnings.

13 Del. C. § 322. Formalities.

A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration.

13 Del. C. § 323. Content.

(a) Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to:

(1) The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;

(2) The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;

(3) The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;

(4) The modification or elimination of spousal support or alimony;

(5) The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;

(6) The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;

(7) The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and

(8) Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

(b) The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.

13 Del. C. § 324. Effect of marriage.

A premarital agreement becomes effective upon marriage.

13 Del. C. § 325. Amendment or revocation.

After marriage, a premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by the parties. Such amended agreement or revocation is enforceable without consideration.

13 Del. C. § 326. Enforcement.

(a) A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that:

(1) Such party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or

(2) The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, that party:

(i) Was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party;

(ii) Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and

(iii) Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

(b) Any issue of unconscionability of a premarital agreement shall be decided by the court as a matter of law.

13 Del. C. § 327. Enforcement; void marriage.

If a new marriage is determined to be void, an agreement that would otherwise have been a premarital agreement is enforceable only to the extent necessary to avoid an inequitable result.

13 Del. C. § 328. Limitation of actions.

Any statute of limitations applicable to an action asserting a claim for relief under a premarital agreement is tolled during the time that the parties to the agreement are married. However, equitable defenses limiting the time for enforcement, including laches and estoppel, are available to either party.

Chapter 15. Divorce And Annulment

13 Del. C. § 1501. Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Delaware Divorce and Annulment Act.

13 Del. C. § 1502. Purpose; construction.

This chapter shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are:

(1) To promote the amicable settlement of disputes that have arisen between parties to a marriage;

(2) To mitigate the potential harm to spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage;

(3) To make the law of divorce more effective for dealing with the realities of matrimonial experience by making irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship the sole basis for divorce;

(4) To permit dissolution of a marriage where the marriage is irretrievably broken despite the objections of an unwilling spouse;

(5) To award alimony under this chapter to a dependent party but only during the continuance of such dependency;

(6) To award alimony in appropriate cases so as to encourage parties to become self-supporting;

(7) Repealed.

13 Del. C. § 1503. Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, unless the context indicates differently:

(1) "Commencement of the action" means the time of filing the petition.

(2) "Court" means Family Court of the State.

(3) "Incompatibility" means marital rift or discord that has destroyed the marriage relation, without regard to the fault of either party.

(4) "Mental illness" means mental incapacity or infirmity so destructive of the marriage relation that petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to continue in that relation.

(5) "Misconduct" means conduct so destructive of the marriage relation that petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to continue in that relation; and "misconduct" includes, as examples, adultery, bigamy, conviction of a crime the sentence for which might be incarceration for 1 or more years, repeated physical or oral abuse directed against petitioner or children living in the home, desertion, homosexuality, lesbianism, willful refusal to perform marriage obligations, contracting venereal disease, habitual intemperance, habitual use of illegal drugs or other incapacitating substances and/or other serious offenses destructive of the marriage relation.

(6) Repealed.

(7) "Separation" means living separate and apart for 6 or more months immediately preceding the ruling upon the petition for a decree of divorce, except that no period of separation is required with respect to a marriage characterized under § 13 Del. C. § 1505(b)(2) of this title; and separation may commence and/or continue while the parties reside under the same roof, provided, during such period, the parties occupy separate bedrooms and do not have sexual relations with each other, except as § 13 Del. C. § 1505(e) of this title may apply.

(8) "Voluntary separation" means separation by mutual consent or acquiescence; but if respondent denies that the separation was voluntary then mutual consent or acquiescence must be established either by written agreement of the parties or by proof of institution by respondent of separate judicial proceedings premised upon respondent's consent to or acquiescence in the separation.

(9) "Actually resided" means was domiciled.

13 Del. C. § 1504. Jurisdiction; residence; procedure.

(a) The Family Court of the State has jurisdiction over all actions for divorce and annulment of marriage where either petitioner or respondent, at the time the action was commenced, actually resided in this State, or was stationed in this State as a member of the armed services of the United States, continuously for 6 or more months immediately preceding the commencement of the action.

(b) The procedure in divorce and annulment shall conform to the rules of the Court where the same do not contravene this title.

13 Del. C. § 1505. Divorce; marriage irretrievably broken and reconciliation improbable; defenses; efforts at reconciliation.

(a) The Court shall enter a decree of divorce whenever it finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that reconciliation is improbable.

(b) A marriage is irretrievably broken where it is characterized by:

(1) Voluntary separation; or

(2) Separation caused by respondent's misconduct; or

(3) Separation caused by respondent's mental illness; or

(4) Separation caused by incompatibility.

(c) Previously existing defenses to divorce of condonation, connivance, recrimination, insanity and lapse of time are preserved but only with respect to marriages characterized under subsection (b)(2) of this section.

(d) The only defense to a divorce action shall be the failure to establish either:

(1) The marriage of the parties; or

(2) Jurisdictional requirements of § 13 Del. C. § 1504 of this title; or

(3) That the marriage is irretrievably broken; or

(4) A defense permitted under subsection (c) of this section because of the characterization of the marriage under subsection (b)(2) of this section.

(e) Bona fide efforts to achieve reconciliation prior to divorce, even those that include, 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 day the Court hears the petition for divorce.

13 Del. C. § 1506. Annulment.

(a) The Court shall enter a decree of annulment of a marriage entered into under any of the following circumstances:

(1) A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity, or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs or other incapacitating substances;

(2) A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse and the other party did not, at the time the marriage was solemnized, know of the incapacity;

(3) A party was less than legal age and did not have the consent of his or her parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;

(4) One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party, which fraudulent act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage;

(5) One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress exercised by the other party, or a third party, whether or not such other party knew of such exercise of duress;

(6) One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare; or

(7) The marriage is prohibited and void or voidable as provided in § 13 Del. C. § 101 of this title.

(b) A decree of annulment may be sought by any of the following persons, and a petition therefor must be filed within the times specified below, but in no event may a decree of annulment be sought after the death of either party to the marriage, except as provided in this section:

(1) For the reasons set forth in either paragraph (1), (4), (5) or (6) of subsection (a) of this section, by either party to the marriage who was aggrieved by the condition or conditions, or by the legal representative of the party who lacked capacity to consent, no later than 90 days after petitioner obtained knowledge of the described condition.

(2) For the reason set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this section, by either party no later than 1 year after petitioner obtained knowledge of the described condition.

(3) For the reason set forth in paragraph (3) of subsection (a) of this section, by the underaged party, his or her parent or guardian, no later than 1 year after the date the marriage was entered into.

(4) A decree of annulment for the reason set forth in paragraph (7) of subsection (a) of this section may be sought by either party, by the legal spouse in case of bigamous, polygamous or incestuous marriages, by the appropriate state official, or by a child of either party at any time prior to the death of either party or prior to the final settlement of the estate of either party and the discharge of the personal representative, executor or administrator of the estate, or prior to 6 months after an order of distribution is made under Chapter 23 of Title 12.

(c) Children born of an annulled marriage are legitimate. Marriages annulled under this section shall be so declared as of the date of the marriage.

(d) The provisions of this chapter relating to the property rights of spouses are applicable to annulment.

(e) "Separation" as defined in § 13 Del. C. § 1503(7) of this title is inapplicable to annulment proceedings; and a petition may be filed whenever a circumstance exists as defined by, and within the time limit specified in, this section.

13 Del. C. § 1507. Petition for divorce or annulment.

(a) A petition for divorce or annulment of marriage shall be captioned:

IN THE FAMILY COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE

IN AND FOR ________ COUNTY

In re the Marriage of

___________________________________________ Petitioner,

AND No ____________, 19___.

___________________________________________, Respondent.

PETITION FOR DIVORCE (OR ANNULMENT)

(b) The petition shall be verified by petitioner and shall set forth:

(1) The age, occupation and residence (including county in Delaware) of each party and length of residence in the State, showing compliance with the jurisdictional requirements of subsection (a) of § 13 Del. C. § 1504 of this title;

(2) Address where it is most likely that mail will be received by respondent, or that no such address can be ascertained with reasonable diligence;

(3) Under proper circumstances, that it is unlikely that jurisdiction can be acquired over respondent other than by mailing or publication of notice as provided in § 13 Del. C. § 1508 of this title;

(4) If respondent is a foreign national or has resided in a foreign country within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition, the address of a representative (preferably the nearest) of such foreign country in the United States;

(5) The date of the marriage and the place at which it was registered;

(6) The date on which the parties separated;

(7) The names, ages and addresses of all living children of the marriage and whether the wife is pregnant;

(8) Whether there have been any prior matrimonial proceedings between the parties and, if so, the date, name and place of the court, and the disposition of the same;

(9) An allegation that the marriage is irretrievably broken and how it is characterized; or if the petition is for annulment, averment of the applicable circumstances specified in subsection (a) of § 13 Del. C. § 1506 of this title and that the petition has been filed within the applicable time limit recited in subsection (b) of § 13 Del. C. § 1506 of this title;

(10) Any other relevant facts;

(11) Relief prayed for.

(c) The petition shall be filed either in the county wherein petitioner resides or the county wherein respondent resides.

(d) The petition shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court, along with such deposit to cover costs as the Court may fix, and a praecipe instructing the Clerk how service is to be made or jurisdiction otherwise sought or acquired over respondent.

(e) A petition for divorce may be filed at any time following the separation of the parties if the requirements of § 13 Del. C. § 1504(a) of this title have been satisfied although no ruling shall be made to determine whether to grant a divorce until after the parties have been separated for 6 months; provided, however, that relief under § 13 Del. C. § 1509 of this title shall be available to the parties during the interim.

(f) The relief prayed for under subsection (b)(11) of this section may include, where appropriate under the facts and law, in addition to a prayer for a decree of divorce or annulment, prayers for other relief that may be available under this title, including, without limitation, prayers for interim relief (§ 1509), alimony (§ 1512), property disposition (§ 1513), resumption of prior name (§ 1514), costs and attorneys' fees (§ 1515), support for a child (subchapter I, Chapter 5) and custody and/or child visitation (subchapter II, Chapter 7).

(g) In any case where there are living children of the marriage, the petitioner shall submit with the petition an affidavit signed by the petitioner showing that the petitioner has read or has been advised of the following children's rights, which shall be set forth in full in said affidavit:

(1) The right to a continuing relationship with both parents.

(2) The right to be treated as an important human being, with unique feelings, ideas and desires.

(3) The right to continuing care and guidance from both parents.

(4) The right to know and appreciate what is good in each parent without one parent degrading the other.

(5) The right to express love, affection and respect for each parent without having to stifle that love because of fear of disapproval by the other parent.

(6) The right to know that the parents' decision to divorce was not the responsibility of the child.

(7) The right not to be a source of argument between the parents.

(8) The right to honest answers to questions about the changing family relationships.

(9) The right to be able to experience regular and consistent contact with both parents and the right to know the reason for any cancellation of time or change of plans.

(10) The right to have a relaxed, secure relationship with both parents without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other.

(h) In any case where there are living children of the marriage up to the age of 17, the Court shall order that the parties pay for and participate in a "Parenting Education Course" unless the Court, upon motion, determines that participation in the course is deemed not necessary. The "Parenting Education Course" shall be a course which is certified by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families to meet the goal of educating divorce litigants on the impact on children of the restructuring of families. The course, in order to be certified by the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, shall consist of at least four (4) hours of instruction and at a minimum provide instruction regarding the following items:

(1) Information on the developmental stages of children;

(2) Adjustment of children to parental separation;

(3) Dispute resolution and conflict management;

(4) Guidelines for visitation;

(5) Stress reduction in children; and

(6) Cooperative parenting.

A litigant who has a demonstrable history of domestic violence shall be ordered to participate in a separate and more intensive course which shall include, at a minimum, the topics required in paragraphs (1) through (6) and education regarding domestic violence, its prevention and its effect upon children.

Parties do not have to attend the same course.

13 Del. C. § 1508. Obtaining jurisdiction over respondent.

(a) After the filing of the petition, jurisdiction may be acquired over respondent in any of the following ways:

(1) By issuance of summons by the Clerk of the Family Court, and service thereof by the sheriff upon respondent, by delivering a copy of the summons, petition and any affidavit to respondent personally or by delivering copies thereof to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process;

(2) By appearance of respondent, either personally or by executing and filing an appearance document in a form approved by the Court, with or without issuance of summons;

(3) By appearance of counsel for respondent, with or without issuance of summons;

(4) Under a court rule not inconsistent with this section.

(b) If the petition avers that it is unlikely that jurisdiction can be acquired over respondent except by mailing and publication, or by publication only, whether respondent is a resident or a nonresident of this State, jurisdiction may be acquired over respondent by mailing and publication, or by publication only, under subsection (d) of this section.

(c) If an effort has been made unsuccessfully to obtain jurisdiction over respondent as provided in subsection (a) of this section, then jurisdiction may be acquired over respondent by mailing and publication, or by publication only, under subsection (d) of this section.

(d) When service is to be made upon respondent by mailing and publication, the Clerk of the Family Court shall:

(1) Send a copy of the summons, petition and any affidavit to respondent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address that petitioner had averred it is most likely that mail will be received by respondent; and

(2) Cause a notice in the form prescribed by subsection (e) of this section to be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the action is pending.

If petitioner has averred that he or she knows of no address where it is most likely that mail will be received by respondent there shall be no mailing.

No further notice shall be required unless the Court, deeming the circumstances exceptional, requires further notice.

(e) The form of notice shall be as follows:

NOTICE OF DIVORCE (OR ANNULMENT) ACTION

TO: (John R. Doe), Respondent

FROM: CLERK OF THE FAMILY COURT, (NEW CASTLE) COUNTY, DELAWARE

(Mary C. Doe), petitioner, has brought suit against you for divorce (or annulment) in the Family Court of the State of Delaware in and for (New Castle) County, in Civil Action No. _________, 19 _____ If you do not serve a response to the petition on petitioner's attorney (John C. Dodge, 400 Delaware Avenue, Wilmington, Delaware) within 20 days after the day of publication of this notice as required by statute, the action will be tried without further notice by the Family Court in (Wilmington).

(f) When the petition avers that respondent is a resident of this State, the summons shall be delivered to an officer for service in the county where it appears most likely that service can be effected on respondent.

(g) The expense of mailing and publication shall be taxed as part of the costs of the case.

(h) Original process, whether an original, alias or pluries writ, is returnable 20 days after the issuance of the writ, except that the Court by rule, or by order after application for cause shown, may provide that the writ be returnable sooner or later.

13 Del. C. § 1509. Preliminary injunction; interim orders pending final hearing.

(a) Upon the filing of a petition for divorce or annulment, a preliminary injunction shall be issued against both parties to the action, enjoining them from:

(1) Transferring, encumbering, concealing or in any way disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and requiring the parties to notify the other of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the Court for all extraordinary expenditures after the preliminary injunction becomes effective;

(2) Molesting or disturbing the peace of the other party;

(3) Removing any natural or adopted child of the parties then residing in Delaware from the jurisdiction of this Court without the prior written consent of the parties or the permission of the Court;

(4) Utilizing credit cards or otherwise incurring any debt for which the other party is or may be liable except in connection with the marital litigation or necessities of life for the benefit of the party or the parties' minor children.

The preliminary injunction shall be effective against the petitioner upon the filing of the petition for divorce and upon the respondent upon service of a copy of the petition.

(b) Petitioner in the petition for divorce or annulment, or by motion filed simultaneously with the petition, or either party by motion filed after the filing of the petition, may move for 1 or more of the following interim orders:

(1) For temporary alimony for himself or herself;

(2) Restraining a party from transferring, encumbering, concealing or in any way disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and, if so restrained, requiring him or her to notify the moving party of any proposed extraordinary expenditures and to account to the Court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the order is issued;

(3) Enjoining a party from molesting or disturbing the peace of the other party;

(4) Excluding a party from the family home or from the home of the other party even though such party has a legal or equitable interest in the same, upon a showing that physical or emotional harm might otherwise result;

(5) Requiring a party to make available to his or her spouse designated personal property and/or fixtures, even though titled in such party's name alone or jointly with someone else, upon such terms and conditions as the Court may impose;

(6) Requiring 1 party to pay such sum to the other party as deemed necessary to defray the other party's expenses in conducting the proceedings;

(7) For support of a child under Chapter 5 of this title;

(8) For custody and/or visitation of a child under Chapter 7 of this title.

(c) A motion shall be accompanied by an affidavit setting forth the factual basis for the motion and any amounts of money requested. The Court may issue any of the above orders solely or collectively without requiring notice to the other party only if it finds on the basis of the moving affidavit or other evidence that irreparable injury would result to the moving party if an order were not issued until the time for responding has elapsed.

(d) Where appropriate under the facts and law, relief afforded a party under paragraphs (1), (3), (4) and/or (5) of subsection (b) of this section may be continued and/or included in the relief granted under § 13 Del. C. § 1518(b) of this title.

13 Del. C. § 1510. Enforcement of interim orders.

Whenever there is exhibited to any duly authorized sheriff, constable or police officer a certified copy of an order issued by the Court in an action for divorce, or annulment, enjoining any person from threatening, beating, striking, assaulting any other person, or requiring the person to remove himself or herself from certain premises and to refrain from loitering, entering or remaining near the premises thereafter and the copy of the order shows under signature of the person so serving that a copy of the order has been properly served upon the person named in the order and the person named commits an apparent violation of its terms, it shall be the duty of the sheriff, constable or police officer to take him or her immediately before the Court issuing the order or if that Court is not in session then to the nearest jail until bail is fixed and provided or until the convening of its next session, to await further action for the violation.

13 Del. C. § 1511. Response; counterclaim; prayers; reply to counterclaim.

(a) Respondent may file a verified response, move or otherwise plead in answer to the petition, and may counterclaim for divorce or annulment against petitioner, within 20 days after personal service, receipt of service by mail, appearance personally or by counsel, or the date of publication of notice.

(b) Respondent may seek an award of interim relief under § 13 Del. C. § 1509 of this title, alimony where appropriate under § 13 Del. C. § 1512 of this title, disposition of property, attorney's fees, resumption of former name or any other relief available to a petitioner.

(c) Petitioner may reply, move or otherwise plead in response to a counterclaim for divorce or annulment within 20 days after service of the counterclaim.

(d) For good cause shown, the Court may extend the time stipulated for responding to the petition or a counterclaim.

(e) In any case where there are living children of the marriage, the respondent shall submit with the response, or other responsive pleading, an affidavit signed by the respondent showing that the respondent has read or been advised of the children's rights set forth in § 13 Del. C. § 1507(g) of this title, which rights shall be set forth in full in said affidavit.

13 Del. C. § 1512. Alimony in divorce and annulment actions; award; limitations.

(a) The Court may award interim alimony to a dependent party during the pendency of an action for divorce or annulment.

(b) A party may be awarded alimony only if he or she is a dependent party after consideration of all relevant factors contained in subsection (c) of this section in that he or she:

(1) Is dependent upon the other party for support and the other party is not contractually or otherwise obligated to provide that support after the entry of a decree of divorce or annulment;

(2) Lacks sufficient property, including any award of marital property made by the Court, to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and

(3) Is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that he or she not be required to seek employment.

(c) The alimony order shall be in such amount and for such time as the Court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, after consideration of all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

(1) The financial resources of the party seeking alimony, including the marital or separate property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet all or part of his or her reasonable needs independently;

(2) The time necessary and expense required to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment;

(3) The standard of living established during the marriage;

(4) The duration of the marriage;

(5) The age, physical and emotional condition of both parties;

(6) Any financial or other contribution made by either party to the education, training, vocational skills, career or earning capacity of the other party;

(7) The ability of the other party to meet his or her needs while paying alimony;

(8) Tax consequences;

(9) Whether either party has foregone or postponed economic, education or other employment opportunities during the course of the marriage; and

(10) Any other factor which the Court expressly finds is just and appropriate to consider.

(d) A person shall be eligible for alimony for a period not to exceed 50% of the term of the marriage with the exception that if a party is married for 20 years or longer, there shall be no time limit as to his or her eligibility; however, the factors contained in subsection (c) of this section shall apply and shall be considered by the Court.

(e) Any person awarded alimony has a continuing affirmative obligation to make good faith efforts to seek appropriate vocational training, if necessary, and employment unless the Court specifically finds, after a hearing, that it would be inequitable to require a person awarded alimony to do so (i) at any time, due to (A) a severe and incapacitating mental or physical illness or disability or (B) his or her age, or (ii) immediately, after consideration of the needs of a minor child or children living with him or her.

(f) A party who has in writing before, during or after the marriage waived or released his or her right to alimony shall have no remedy under this section.

(g) Unless the parties agree otherwise in writing, the obligation to pay future alimony is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage or cohabitation of the party receiving alimony. As used in this section, "cohabitation" means regularly residing with an adult of the same or opposite sex, if the parties hold themselves out as a couple, and regardless of whether the relationship confers a financial benefit on the party receiving alimony. Proof of sexual relations is admissible but not required to prove cohabitation. A party receiving alimony shall promptly notify the other party of his or her remarriage or cohabitation.

13 Del. C. § 1513. Disposition of marital property; imposition of lien; insurance policies.

(a) In a proceeding for divorce or annulment, the Court shall, upon request of either party, equitably divide, distribute and assign the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct, in such proportions as the Court deems just after considering all relevant factors including:

(1) The length of the marriage;

(2) Any prior marriage of the party;

(3) The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties;

(4) Whether the property award is in lieu of or in addition to alimony;

(5) The opportunity of each for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;

(6) The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker, husband, or wife;

(7) The value of the property set apart to each party;

(8) The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family home or the right to live therein for reasonable periods to the party with whom any children of the marriage will live;

(9) Whether the property was acquired by gift, except those gifts excluded by subsection (b)(1) of this section;

(10) The debts of the parties; and

(11) Tax consequences.

(b) For purposes of this chapter only, "marital property" means all property acquired by either party subsequent to the marriage except:

(1) Property acquired by an individual spouse by bequest, devise or descent or by gift, except gifts between spouses, provided the gifted property is titled and maintained in the sole name of the donee spouse, or a gift tax return is filed reporting the transfer of the gifted property in the sole name of the donee spouse or a notarized document, executed before or contemporaneously with the transfer, is offered demonstrating the nature of the transfer.

(2) Property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage;

(3) Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties; and

(4) The increase in value of property acquired prior to the marriage.

(c) All property acquired by either party subsequent to the marriage is presumed to be marital property regardless of whether title is held individually or by the parties in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common or tenancy by the entirety. The presumption of marital property is overcome by a showing that the property was acquired by a method listed in paragraphs (1) through (4) of subsection (b) of this section. Property transferred by gift from 1 spouse to the other during the marriage is marital property.

(d) The Court may also impose a lien or charge upon the marital property assigned to a party as security for the payment of alimony or other allowance or award for the other party.

(e) The Court may also direct the continued maintenance and beneficiary designations of existing policies insuring the life of either party. The Court's power under this subsection shall extend only to policies originally purchased during the marriage and owned by or within the effective control of either party.

(f) The Court may order a party to execute and deliver any deed, document or other paper necessary to effectuate an order entered under this chapter, and if the party so ordered fails to do what he or she has been ordered to do, the Court, in addition to any penalty or sanction it may decide to impose upon that party for such disobedience, may direct the Clerk of the Court to do what the party was ordered to do, and such performance by the Clerk shall be as effective as the performance of the party would have been.

13 Del. C. § 1514. Resumption of maiden or former name.

The Court, upon the request of a party by pleading or motion, may order that such party resume their maiden or former name.

13 Del. C. § 1515. Attorney's fees.

The Court from time to time after considering the financial resources of both parties may order a party to pay all or part of the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this title and for attorney's fees, including sums for legal services rendered and costs incurred prior to the commencement of the proceeding or after the entry of judgment. The Court may order that the amount be paid directly to the attorney, who may enforce the order in his or her name.

13 Del. C. § 1516. Hearings; use of masters; impoundment; assignment of counsel.

(a) All hearings and trials shall be private, but for reasons appearing sufficient to the Court any hearing or trial may be opened to any person who has a direct and legitimate interest in the particular case, or a legitimate educational or research interest in the work of the Court.

(b) A judge, sitting without a jury, shall conduct all hearings and trials where there is a contest; but, pursuant to Court rule, hearings in uncontested proceedings may be conducted by a master, sitting without a jury, in accordance with § 10 Del. C. § 913 of Title 10.

(c) Whenever it seems appropriate, in the interest of justice, the Court may designate a disinterested attorney to defend, or otherwise participate in, a proceeding before the Court, and a fee for such attorney shall be taxed as part of the costs.

(d) No record or evidence in any case shall be impounded or access thereto refused.

13 Del. C. § 1517. Contested and noncontested petitions; opportunity for counseling; review of record; disposition of prayers for relief.

(a) Whenever the petition for divorce or annulment is not contested by respondent, the allegations thereof are presumed to be accurate and true, and the Court shall rule upon the petition either after a hearing at which only petitioner need testify, or without a hearing after the submission of a request for finalization and affidavit which reaffirms the Petition and verifies service of process and military status of the respondent. If petitioner's testimony or the affidavit fails to support the petition in any essential respect, the Court may deny the petition or require corroborating testimony or other evidence before ruling thereon.

(b) In contested cases, after a hearing the Court shall:

(1) Rule upon the petition; or

(2) Continue the matter with the consent of both parties for further hearing not more than 60 days later so that the parties may seek counseling, either with a qualified private counselor or an accredited counseling agency, public or private. No party who objects shall be forced to submit to counseling, and all counseling or interviews shall be confidential and privileged and only the fact that further efforts at reconciliation are impractical or not in the interest of the parties shall be reported to the Court. At the adjourned hearing the Court shall finally determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken.

(c) Before entering a decree the Court shall review the record to determine that:

(1) The averments of the petition satisfy §§ 1504(a), 1505 or 1506, and 1507 of this title;

(2) Jurisdiction has been acquired over respondent under § 13 Del. C. § 1508 of this title;

(3) In uncontested cases, whether the time for respondent to file a responsive pleading has expired;

(4) The parties to a divorce proceeding have continued to be separated since the commencement of this action, except as § 13 Del. C. § 1505(e) of this title may apply;

(5) A certified copy of the parties' marriage record has been filed; and

(6) The affidavit of nonmilitary service, wherever required by federal statute, has been filed.

(d) Where either party has requested property disposition, alimony or other relief provided for in this title, and a decree of divorce or annulment shall be entered, or if such a decree is refused and, nevertheless, the Court deems it appropriate to enter an order concerning some or all of the relief requested, the Court shall finally determine such requests for relief.

13 Del. C. § 1518. Decree in divorce or annulment proceedings; costs; notice of entry; effect on mentally incompetent spouse; effect on subsequent petitions; temporary alimony.

(a) A decree granting or denying a petition for divorce or annulment is final when entered, subject to the right of appeal. An appeal that does not challenge the decree of divorce or annulment, but challenges only rulings with respect to relief awarded under other sections of this chapter, or other matters incidental or collateral to such decree, shall not delay the finality of the decree of divorce or annulment, and the parties may remarry while the appeal is pending.

(b) Whenever the Court enters a decree granting a petition for divorce or annulment, a certified copy of such decree shall be made available to the parties within 30 days after such ruling; but following a contested proceeding, such a copy of the decree shall only be made available to the parties 30 days after such ruling, and after the furnishing of such proof as the Court may require that no appeal challenging the decree of divorce or annulment is pending.

(c) In the decree granting or denying a petition for divorce or annulment, or by separate order or orders preceding or following such decree, the Court shall dispose of all other prayers for relief, where appropriate under the facts and law; but an application for such relief and a hearing thereon must be presented in the petition or response, or by motion after notice to the other party prior to the entry or denial of such decree.

(d) Court costs, including any fee for the services of an attorney allowed by the Court, shall be taxed by the Court at or about the time of the granting or denial of the decree of divorce or annulment, at the time of disposition of other prayers for relief in accordance with subsection (c) of this section, following the disposition of an appeal, or at such other time or times as the Court may deem appropriate.

(e) The Clerk of the Family Court shall give notice of the entry of a decree of divorce or annulment:

(1) If the marriage is registered in this State, to the clerk of the peace of the county where the marriage is registered and such clerk shall enter the fact of divorce or annulment in his or her records; or

(2) If the marriage is registered in another jurisdiction, to the appropriate official of that jurisdiction, with the request that he or she enter the fact of divorce or annulment in the appropriate record.

(f) No decree that may enter shall relieve a spouse from any obligation imposed by law as a result of the marriage for the support or maintenance of a spouse adjudicated to be mentally incompetent prior to the decree, unless such spouse has sufficient property or means of support.

(g) A decree denying a petition for divorce or annulment shall not foreclose a subsequent petition for such relief if the subsequent petition involves factual or legal premises not directly or by necessary implication decided by the decree on the former petition.

(h) Every decree granting a petition for divorce or annulment shall include the social security number of each party.

13 Del. C. § 1519. Modification or termination of decree or order; termination of alimony; enforcement of alimony order.

(a) A decree or separate order entered under § 13 Del. C. § 1518 of this title may be modified or terminated only as follows:

(1) Support for a child, only as provided in Chapter 5 of this title, or otherwise;

(2) Custody and/or visitation of a child, only as provided in Chapter 7 of this title, or otherwise;

(3) Property disposition, only upon a showing of circumstances that would justify the opening or vacation of a judgment under the Rules of the Superior Court of this State;

(4) Alimony or any other relief awarded, only upon a showing of real and substantial change of circumstances.

(b) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties in writing and expressly provided in the decree, the obligation to pay future alimony is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.

(c) Any alimony order entered pursuant to § 13 Del. C. § 1512 of this title shall be enforced in this State exclusively by the Family Court in the county wherein the respondent resides or is found, or in the county where petitioner resides if respondent does not reside and cannot be found in this State, regardless of whether such petitioner was the petitioner or the respondent in the divorce action, and such Family Court, on proper showing of either of such petitioner or such respondent or on its own motion, may modify or terminate support obligations formerly decreed by the Superior Court.

13 Del. C. § 1520. Independence of provisions of decree or temporary order.

If a party fails to comply with a provision of a decree or temporary order, the obligation of the other party to make alimony payments is not suspended; but he or she may move the Court to grant an appropriate order.

13 Del. C. § 1521. Decrees of courts of other states and countries.

Full faith and credit shall be given in all the courts of this State to a decree of divorce or annulment of marriage by a court of competent jurisdiction in another state, territory or possession of the United States. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to limit the power of any court of this State to give such effect to a decree of divorce or annulment by a court of a foreign country as may be justified by the rules of international comity.

Chapter 5. Desertion And Support

13 Del. C. § 501. Duty to support minor child; duty to support child over 18 years of age.

(a) The duty to support a child under the age of 18 years, whether born in or out of wedlock, rests primarily upon the child's parents.

(b) Where the parents are unable to provide a minor child's minimum needs, a stepparent or a person who cohabits in the relationship of husband and wife with the parent of a minor child shall be under a duty to provide those needs. Such duty shall exist only while the child makes residence with such stepparent or person and the marriage or cohabitation continues.

(c) The duty to support a child under 18 years of age, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall rest equally upon both parents.

(d) Both parents have a duty to support their child over 18 years of age if such child is a student in high school and is likely to graduate. This duty ends when the child receives a high school diploma or attains age 19, whichever event first occurs.

13 Del. C. § 511. Commencement of actions; obtaining jurisdiction over respondent.

(a) Proceedings may be instituted in accordance with rules adopted by the Court, or upon a petition in which the petitioner alleges that defendant owes petitioner a duty of support and has refused or failed to provide such support.

(b) Jurisdiction may be acquired over respondent in any of the following ways:

(1) By issuance of summons by the Clerk of the Family Court, and service thereof by the sheriff or other person authorized to make service of process upon respondent, by delivering a copy of the summons, petition and any affidavit to respondent personally or by delivering copies thereof to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service of process;

(2) By appearance of respondent, either personally or by executing and filing an appearance document in a form approved by the Court, with or without issuance of summons;

(3) By appearance of counsel for respondent, with or without issuance of summons;

(4) Under a court rule not inconsistent with this section; or

(5) As may be otherwise provided by law.

13 Del. C. § 512. Interim order.

(a) At any time before trial upon petition of the complainant and upon notice to the defendant, the Court shall conduct a hearing and thereafter may enter such interim order, pending final judgment, as seems just, for the support of any dependent for whom support is sought. The Court may also enter an interim or emergency order for support in accordance with its rules and procedures.

(b) Section 10 Del. C. § 913 of Title 10 notwithstanding, the report and recommendations of the Master with regard to a permanent, temporary, interim or emergency order entered under Chapter 4, 5 or 6 of this title shall become effective and enforceable immediately as an order of the Family Court when announced by the Master. Said order shall remain in full force and effect unless and until a party files a petition for review de novo within 15 days of the date said order is announced and makes application for and is granted a stay by order of a judge of the Family Court.

13 Del. C. § 513. Judgment; order of support; other terms.

(a) Where the duty of support has been determined to exist, the Court may:

(1) Order the defendant to pay a certain sum periodically into the Division of Child Support Enforcement or directly to a dependent, his or her guardian, custodian or trustee, for a dependent's support for so long as the obligation of support shall exist;

(2) Order the defendant to pay a specific total amount into the Division of Child Support Enforcement or directly to a dependent, his or her guardian, custodian or trustee, in a lump sum or in such stated periodic amounts as the Court deems proper;

(3) Order the defendant to pay directly to the obligee the cost of prenatal and postnatal medical, hospital, and other lying-in expenses incident to the birth of a child;

(4) Order the defendant to elect health insurance coverage for a child available through the defendant's employment, otherwise available at reasonable cost as defined in § 13 Del. C. § 401(b)(11) of this title or to pay directly the cost of health insurance coverage for a child; provided, however, that any new or modified order entered in any case brought under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act ( 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.) shall require either or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the child or children who are the subjects of the child support; and provided, further, that in any case brought under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. in which a parent is ordered to provide health care coverage for a child through an employment-related group health plan, the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall issue the National Medical Support Notice required by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. and federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, and the Division shall promptly notify the employer when there is no longer a current order for medical support in effect for which the Division is responsible;

a. In any case in which a parent is required by Court or administrative order to provide health insurance coverage for a child and the parent is eligible for family health coverage through an employer doing business in this State, such employer shall:

1. Permit such parent to enroll under such family coverage any such child who is otherwise eligible for such coverage (without regard to any enrollment season restrictions).

2. If such a parent is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage of such child, enroll such child under such family coverage upon application by the child's other parent, the Division of Child Support Enforcement or Division of Social Services. The Court or administrative order providing for enrollment of the child shall constitute the application for enrollment.

3. Not disenroll (or eliminate coverage of) any such child unless the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that:

A. Such Court or administrative order is no longer in effect; or

B. The child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage which will take effect not later than the effective date of such disenrollment; or

C. The employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees.

4. Where an obligor has been ordered to provide health insurance coverage for a child in a case enforced pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), receipt by an employer or successive employer of a National Medical Support Notice or other notice from the Court or the Division of Child Support Enforcement of an order of a Court or administrative agency requiring the obligor to provide health insurance coverage shall operate to enroll the child in the obligor's health insurance plan without regard to any enrollment season restrictions. The obligor may contest the notice by filing a petition in opposition thereto in the Family Court not later than 10 days after issuance of the notice. The petition in opposition may be based only on mistake of fact. Filing of a petition in opposition shall not relieve the employer of any duties under the notice, order or National Medical Support Notice until such time as the employer receives notice that the contest has been resolved. The Court or the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall send a copy of the notice to the obligor at the same time it sends notice to the employer.

b. An order for health insurance coverage shall operate as an assignment of all benefit rights to the obligee or to the child's health services provider, and in any claim against the coverage provider or insurer, the obligee or the obligee's assignee shall be subrogated to the rights of the obligor. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subparagraph regarding assignment of benefits, this subparagraph shall not require a health service contractor or a health maintenance organization to deviate from their contractual provisions and restrictions regarding reimbursement for covered services. If the coverage is terminated, the employer shall mail a notice of termination to the Division of Child Support Enforcement, or the obligee at the obligee's last known address, within 30 days of the termination date.

c. If an obligor fails to pay the required portion of any deductible under the health insurance coverage or fails to pay the required portion of medical expenses incurred in excess of the coverage provided under the plan, the obligee or the Division of Child Support Enforcement in cases brought under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. may enforce collection of the obligor's portion of the deductible or the additional medical expenses through an appropriate order under this section, including attachment of the obligor's income. The amount of the deductible or additional medical expenses shall be added to the obligor's child support obligation and be collectible as provided by law if the obligor's share of the amount of the deductible or additional expenses is reduced to a sum certain in a court order.

d. Receipt of a National Medical Support Notice or an order for the enforcement of a medical support obligation shall require an obligor's employer to:

1. Answer the Division of Child Support Enforcement or the obligee, as directed, within 20 days and confirm that the child:

A. Has been enrolled in a health care plan, or that the employer has transferred a National Medical Support Notice to the appropriate group health plan providing any such coverage for which the child or children are eligible; or

B. Cannot be covered, stating the reasons why such coverage cannot be provided.

2. Transfer a National Medical Support Notice to the appropriate group health plan providing any such health care coverage for which the child or children are eligible within 20 business days of the date of the National Medical Support Notice.

3. Withhold any required premium from the obligor's income or wages, as provided in subsection (b)(8) of this section.

4. If more than 1 plan is offered by the employer or health insurer, and each plan may be extended to cover the child, enroll the child in the obligor's plan. If the obligor's plan does not provide coverage which is accessible to the child, the child shall be enrolled in the least expensive plan otherwise available to the obligor. When the plan administrator reports that there is more than 1 option available under the plan, the Division of Child Support Enforcement, in consultation with the obligee, must promptly select from available plan options.

5. Provide information to the Division of Child Support Enforcement or the obligee, as directed, about the name of the health care provider or the insurer and the extent of the coverage available and make available to such party any necessary claim forms or enrollment membership cards.

e. Orders entered under this subsection may be enforced as provided in subsections (b)(9) and (10) of this section.

(5) Order 1 party to pay all or part of the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this chapter and for attorneys' fees, including sums for legal services rendered and costs incurred prior to the commencement of the proceeding or after the entry of judgment, after considering the legal and factual basis for the action, the results obtained, the financial resources of both parties, and such other factors as the Court deems just and equitable. The Court may order that the amount be paid directly to the attorney, who may enforce the order in his or her name;

(6) Enforce its order by attachment of the defendant or by sequestration of property;

(7) Enter such other orders as the Court of Chancery heretofore possessed the power to enter, and as the interests of the parties may require, including but not limited to orders of custody and visitation;

(8) Order the defendant to move from the family home, even though titled in defendant's name alone or jointly with someone else, and not to live there for a reasonable period of time so that his or her spouse and/or child or children of the marriage might live there and enjoy the family home as an element of support;

(9) Enjoin the defendant from molesting or disturbing the peace of his or her spouse and/or child or children of the marriage for whom defendant is obliged to provide support;

(10) Restrain defendant from transferring, encumbering, concealing or in any way disposing of any property except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, and, if so restrained, requiring him or her to notify any person to whom he or she has an obligation of support, or such person's guardian, custodian or trustee, of any proposed extraordinary expenditure and to account to the Court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the order is issued;

(11) Order the defendant to permit his or her spouse and/or child or children of the marriage to have the use of designated personal property and/or fixtures, even though titled in defendant's name alone or jointly with someone else, upon such terms and conditions as the Court may impose, as an element of support;

(12) When a defendant fails to notify the Court within 5 working days after a change of residential address hold the defendant in contempt of court and attach his or her wages.

(b)(1) Where a duty to support or to provide medical support has been determined to exist and a new or modified support order is established, and regardless of whether support or medical support payments are in arrears, the Court shall attach the obligor's income, if any, as of the effective date of the order, for payment of support or premiums for health insurance coverage except that such income shall not be subject to such withholding under this subparagraph in any case where:

a. One of the parties demonstrates, and the Court (or administrative process) finds that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding. Any finding that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding must be based on at least:

1. A written determination that, and explanation by the Court or administrative authority of why, implementing immediate income withholding would not be in the best interests of the child; and

2. Proof of timely payment of previously ordered support in cases involving modification of support orders; or

b. A written agreement is reached between both parties which provides for an alternative arrangement. As used herein, "written agreement" means a written alternative arrangement signed by both parents, or by the obligor and a representative of the Division of Child Support Enforcement in cases brought under Part D of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. in which there is an assignment of support rights to the State, and reviewed and entered in the record by the Court or administrative authority.

c. In any case where an order of support is not subject to immediate income withholding under subparagraph (1) of this paragraph, the obligor's income shall be attached automatically upon the filing of a verified notice by the obligee of a default in payment for 7 working days, or the earliest of:

1. The date as of which the obligor requests that such withholding begin;

2. The date as of which the obligee requests that such withholding begin, and the State determines such request is appropriate; or

3. Such earlier date as the State may select.

(2)a. Where no withholding order is in effect for orders of support or medical support entered under this chapter, Chapter 6 of this title, or where the order is one of unallocated alimony and child support under Chapter 15 of this title including orders issued prior to March 5, 1986, the obligor's income shall be attached automatically upon the filing of a verified notice by the obligee of a default in payment for 7 working days, or earlier at the request of the obligor.

b. If the existing support order does not include payment on arrears, then the income attachment shall be issued in the amount of current support plus an amount payable toward arrears of up to 10 percent of the current support order or $5, whichever is greater. If the existing medical support order does not include an attachment for payment of health insurance coverage, payment for the obligor's share (if any) for premiums of health insurance coverage shall be added to the attachment. The verified notice shall specify the amount requested to reduce the arrears. The remedy specified for recovery of arrearages shall be in addition to and not in substitution for remedies available elsewhere in this title.

(3) Where an order for attachment is to be issued under this subsection or Chapter 4 of this title, the obligor shall be notified upon the commencement of the withholding that the withholding has commenced and of the procedures to follow if the obligor desires to contest such withholding on the grounds that the withholding or the amount withheld is improper due to a mistake of fact. The notice shall include the information provided to the obligor's employer pursuant to federal law. The obligor shall have 10 days from the date of notification to file an affidavit in opposition to the attachment based only upon an assertion of a mistake of fact concerning the identity of the parties, the delinquency of payment, or the jurisdiction of the Court. Any other defenses to the amount of the obligation may be raised only in accordance with other provisions of this title. Full payment upon receipt of the notification shall not constitute grounds for contesting withholding. The Court shall, upon consideration of the affidavit(s), determine whether an issue of material fact or defense permissible under this section exists and shall, in accordance with that determination, schedule a hearing, order the termination of the attachment, or permit the attachment to continue. In either event, a final determination shall be made and both parties notified within 45 days of the notification.

(4)a. In all cases brought under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), a copy of the Court's income withholding order shall be issued to the Division of Child Support Enforcement and shall be served by the Division by first class mail upon the obligor's employer, and any successive employer, and such service shall be as effectual for all purposes as if served by the Court.

b. In all cases brought under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the Division shall be authorized to file the verified notice on behalf of said obligee.

(5) For purposes of Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of this title, "income" is defined as any periodic form of payment due to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to, wages, salary, commission, vacation pay, severance pay, bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, workers' compensation, disability, sick pay, SUB benefits, medical benefits, unemployment compensation, railroad retirement, pensions, annuity and retirement benefits; provided, however, that income excludes:

a. Any amounts required by law to be withheld, other than creditor claims, including, but not limited to, federal, state and local taxes, Social Security and other mandatory retirement and disability contributions;

b. Union dues;

c. Any amounts exempted by federal law;

d. Public assistance payments; and

e. Tax refunds, which shall be governed by §§ 1205-1209 repealed of Title 30 and § 454 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 654).

(6) "Employer" has the meaning given such term in § 4301(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 repealed, and includes any governmental entity and any labor organization, as defined in § 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, and includes an individual, partnership, association, corporation, trust, federal agency, state agency or political subdivision paying or obligated to pay income.

(7) Any attachment or execution to enforce an order for child support, medical support, or unallocated alimony and child support entered under this title shall not be subject to the exemptions or limitations set forth in § 3502 or § 10 Del. C. § 4913 of Title 10 or § 29 Del. C. § 5503 of Title 29. Said attachment for support shall also have priority over any other attachment, except an attachment for federal tax liens, regardless of whether such other attachment was perfected prior to the support attachment. The support and medical support attachment shall be subject to the limitations set forth in § 303(b) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1673(b)); provided, however, that an attachment of unemployment compensation shall not exceed 50 percent of the weekly payment thereof.

(8) Upon receipt of a certified copy of income withholding from the Court or copy from the Division of Child Support Enforcement, the employer shall deduct the specified sum, which may include a fee, established by the State, to be paid to the employer, unless waived by the employer, from the income due the obligor-employee and shall, at or before the time the obligor-employee is paid, mail or otherwise deliver the said deduction for support to the Division of Child Support Enforcement or the obligee, as directed, and pay the health insurance premium amount deducted directly to the health insurer, and shall continue to do so for so long as the obligor remains in the employer's employ or until the Court orders otherwise; provided, however, that when an employer receives an income withholding order issued by another state, the employer shall apply the law of the state of the obligor's principal place of employment in determining the factors enumerated in § 13 Del. C. § 411(d) of this title. The withholding shall be effective with regard to any payment by the employer to the obligor after a reasonable time to give effect to the withholding, but in no event shall such withholding be delayed more than 7 days after the 1st pay-day following receipt of the wage attachment. In every case, the remittance shall be by check or money order payable as directed and the remittance shall specify the obligor-employee's name and Social Security number. In the event the employer is withholding from more than 1 employee, and the payee is the Division of Child Support Enforcement, payment for the total amount may be remitted by a single check. Upon the termination of the obligor's employment, the employer shall notify the Court, or the Division of Child Support Enforcement if the order of income withholding or National Medical Support Notice was served by the Division, of said termination and shall provide the Court, or the Division if the order of income withholding or National Medical Support Notice was served by the Division, with the obligor-employee's last known address, along with the name and address of the obligor's future employer, if known. If the obligor contests such withholding, the employer must initiate withholding until such time as the employer receives notice that the contest is resolved.

(9) Upon receipt of the certified copy of the order of income withholding from the Court or from the Division of Child Support Enforcement by certified mail, the employer becomes primarily liable for the payment of the obligations for support and medical support set forth in such order, as well as such criminal and civil sanctions as the Court may impose in the event that the employer fails to comply with the terms of such income attachment and is found to be in contempt by the Court.

(10) Any employer who fails to comply with the terms of this section or who dismisses, terminates or causes the termination of an obligor's employment as a result of an attachment under this section shall be fined for the first offense not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 90 days, or both, and for each subsequent offense shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both. Any employer who refuses to hire an obligor as a result of an attachment under this section shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $200 for the 1st offense and each subsequent offense. If the employer is a corporation, criminal liability shall be established pursuant to §§ 11 Del. C. § 281-284 of Title 11.

(11) Withholding of income for support or medical support under this section shall remain in effect as long as the order for support or medical support upon which it is based, or any modification thereof.

(12) The Division of Child Support Enforcement is designated as the State Income Withholding Agency. The Division shall distribute all amounts received promptly in accordance with § 457 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 657) and shall allocate amounts received when there is more than 1 obligee in accordance with rules promulgated by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.

a. In any case enforced under Title IV, Part D, of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), and notwithstanding the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, Chapter 101 of Title 29, the Division is hereby authorized:

1. To order income withholding in accordance with this chapter, without the necessity of obtaining an order from any other judicial or administrative tribunal, and shall recognize and enforce the authority of state IV-D agencies of other states to do the same.

2. To execute an income withholding order without advance notice to the obligor, including issuing the withholding order through electronic means.

b. In cases in which support is subject to an assignment pursuant to Part A of Title XIX of the Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. or to a requirement to pay through the state disbursement unit, upon providing notice to the obligor and obligee, the Division may direct the obligor or other payor to change the payee to the appropriate governmental entity.

(13) Any attachment or execution to enforce an order entered under this chapter or an order for alimony, division of property or other financial relief under Chapter 6, 7, 13 or 15 of this title shall not be subject to the exemptions or limitations set forth in § 3502 or § 10 Del. C. § 4913 of Title 10.

(14) An employer who complies with an income withholding notice or National Medical Support Notice that is regular on its face shall not be subject to civil liability to any individual or agency for conduct in compliance with the notice.

(c)(1) Following the entry of any order of support or medical support under this chapter, the parties must notify each other in writing of every change in circumstances which might materially affect the existing support or medical support order; and, in addition, each party shall exchange completed financial report forms every 12 months to determine how the needs of those receiving support are being met with the support paid, and whether any modification should be made to the existing support order based upon the factors set forth in § 13 Del. C. § 514 of this title.

(2) Where an order for child support, including orders issued prior to March 31, 1987, has been entered under this chapter, Chapter 6 or Chapter 15 of this title, the right of each and every child support installment or payment becomes absolute and vested upon coming due with the full force, effect and attributes of a judgment of the Family Court of the State.

(3) Remedies available under this subsection are cumulative with any and all other remedies available to enforce a child support obligation.

(4) After receipt by the Division of Child Support Enforcement of a copy of an order of child support as set forth in paragraph (1) of this subsection made payable through the Division, the Division shall promptly record all payments received and apply said payments to installment or payment amounts due and owing by the obligor in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services. Said regulations shall specifically include administrative procedures to make technical corrections in the Division's accounting records. With regard to any order of child support made payable through the Division, the Division's records shall be presumptive of the payment or nonpayment of each installment payment.

(d)(1) The Court shall have continuing jurisdiction to modify prospectively an order of child support entered by the Court including orders issued prior to March 31, 1987, so long as the obligated parent has a duty of support under this chapter, Chapter 6 or Chapter 15 of this title and at least 1 of the parents or the child whose support is at issue resides in the State.

(2) An order of child support entered by this Court or a court of competent jurisdiction in this or any other state, including orders entered prior to March 31, 1987, shall not be retroactively modified except with respect to any period during which there is pending petition for prospective modification but only from the date that notice of such petition has been given to the respondent directly or through the respondent's agent. In addition to any other manner or type, "notice" for the purposes of this paragraph shall include but not be limited to mailing by the petitioner of a copy of the modification petition by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the respondent. Said notice shall be effective on the date of delivery or first attempted delivery whichever first occurs.

(3) Whenever the Court considers a petition to modify child support, the Court shall also consider whether medical support should be ordered or modified, as provided in this chapter. When the Court considers a petition to establish or modify medical support, such petition shall also put the order for child support at issue, and the Court will determine whether the child support amount should be modified in accordance with the guidelines.

(e) The Court shall have continuing jurisdiction to enforce an order of child support entered by the Court, including orders issued prior to March 31, 1987, so long as the obligated parent has a duty to support the child or children under this chapter, Chapter 6 or Chapter 15 of this title or there are arrearages or past due amounts due and owing on such an order. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as limiting the Court's authority under Chapter 4 of this title.

(f) Each party to a support order shall report any change in his or her current residential address, driver's license number, telephone number, employer, employer's address and employer's telephone number to the Family Court, and to the Division of Child Support Enforcement in any case enforced by the Division pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), within 5 days of when the change occurs. Notice for purposes of enforcing or modifying a child support order shall mean: (a) mailed notice to the last known residential address provided to the Family Court by the party; or (b) upon a showing of diligent efforts to locate a party, mailed notice to the last known employment address provided to the Family Court by the party; provided, however, that where the respondent is a IV-D client as defined by regulation of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall be the appropriate agent for the receipt of any such notice.

(g) Upon receipt of a written request, or a request by other electronic means where available, from the Director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement in any case enforced by the Division pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651, et seq.), any employer, as that term is defined in paragraph (b)(6) of this Section, and any labor organization, as that term is defined in § 19 Del. C. § 710 of Title 19, shall cooperate with and provide relevant employment and income information in the possession of such employer or labor organization to the Director or the Director's designee for the purpose of establishing, modifying or enforcing a child support order. Relevant employment and income information includes: Whether a named person has or has not been employed by an employer or whether a named person has or has not been employed to the knowledge of the labor organization; the full name of the employee or member; the employee's or member's last known address; the employee's or member's date of birth; the employee's or member's social security number; all income, as that term is defined in subsection (b)(5) of this section, paid to the employee or member in the prior and current calendar year and the employee's or member's current rate of pay; and whether dependent health insurance coverage is available to the employee or member through employment or membership in the labor organization, together with information about the name of the health care insurer and the extent of the coverage available.

(1) An employer or labor organization shall be immune from any liability for providing information pursuant to this subsection.

(2) Any employer or labor organization which fails or refuses to provide the information described in this subsection within 30 days after receipt of a request from the Director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement or as otherwise provided in such request shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500. For a second or subsequent offense, such employer or labor organization shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000. A fine under this section may not be suspended. If the employer or labor organization is a corporation, criminal liability shall be established pursuant to §§ 11 Del. C. § 281-284 of Title 11.

(h) Every child support order entered under this chapter or under Chapter 4 or 6 of this title shall include the name, residential address, social security number, date of birth, driver's license number, telephone number, employer, employer address and employer telephone number of each party.

(i) Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, a child support payment shall not be subject to attachment, garnishment or execution.

13 Del. C. § 514. Determination of amount of support.

In determining the amount of support due to one to whom the duty of support has been found to be owing, the Court, among other things, shall consider:

(1) The health, relative economic condition, financial circumstance, income, including the wages, and earning capacity of the parties, including the children;

(2) The manner of living to which the parties have been accustomed when they were living under the same roof;

(3) The general equities inherent in the situation.

13 Del. C. § 515. Procedural rights of parties.

(a) All parties to a civil action brought pursuant to this chapter shall possess all procedural rights which such parties would have heretofore possessed in an action for support or separate maintenance in the Court of Chancery of the State, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Right to institute and retain complete control of the suit;

(2) Right to select counsel;

(3) Right to appeal to the Supreme Court of the State, on the record, from interlocutory or final orders or judgments. Such appeal shall be in the form and manner provided by the Rules of the Supreme Court.

(b) For purposes of this section, a child born out of wedlock shall possess the same procedural rights as a child born in wedlock and the mother of a child born out of wedlock shall possess the same procedural rights as the mother of a child born in wedlock.

(c) A complete record shall be made of all proceedings in which testimony is taken under this section, by court stenographer, tape recorder, or other device, the method to be at the discretion of the Court.

(d) The Family Court shall by Rule provide for expedited procedures for the determination and enforcement of support obligations established under this chapter, Chapter 4 and Chapter 6 of this title. These procedures shall include, except in appropriate cases and on a showing of good cause as herein provided, the mandatory use of such expedited process before a hearing can be held before a judge. The Court shall by Rule adopt procedures to provide, in appropriate cases, for the determination that there is good cause to proceed directly to a hearing before a judge.

13 Del. C. § 516. Violation of support order for spouse or child; proceedings; contempt; assignment of income; employer's duties.

(a) If the Court, after notice to defendant and a hearing on a rule to show cause, concludes that the defendant has violated the terms of an order of support for a spouse or child, it may punish such defendant for contempt and may attach the defendant's income. In any case enforced under Title IV, Part D, of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), the income of a person with a support obligation imposed by a support order issued (or modified) in this State before October 1, 1996, if not otherwise subject to withholding under § 13 Del. C. § 513 of this title, shall, by operation of law, become subject to withholding as provided in § 13 Del. C. § 513 of this title if arrearages occur, without the need for a hearing.

(b) Order by income attachment and/or by direct payment an additional amount toward arrears in addition to any amount ordered pursuant to § 13 Del. C. § 513(b) of this title.

(c) In cases where the Court deems it appropriate, it may accept a voluntary assignment of income from the defendant in lieu of an attachment of the defendant's income.

(d) The Court or the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall notify the Department of Health and Social Services of any arrearage of support payments due from a defendant in order that the Department may proceed to set off said arrearage pursuant to §§ 1205-1209 repealed of Title 30 against any refund of personal income taxes to which said defendant may be entitled.

(e) Upon a finding by the Court of a violation of a support order after notice to a defendant and a hearing on a rule to show cause, and in the case of a defendant who derives income from self-employment by an employer not subject to the jurisdiction of the Court, or from any other type of employment which makes the attachment of income impractical, the Court shall require the person to enter into bond or other adequate collateral security, with or without sureties, to secure payment of the obligation to the Court in the amount of the past-due support plus a sum fixed by the Court to insure the payment of support as it becomes due for a period of not less than 3 months, conditioned upon the person making payment as previously ordered. The Court may order the cancellation of the bond or other collateral security upon proof of full payment of past-due and current support pursuant to the support order, as follows:

(1) The Court may order the cancellation of a bond or other collateral security imposed for a first violation of support order after proof of full payment of past-due and current support payments;

(2) The Court may order the cancellation of a bond or other collateral security imposed for a second violation of support order 12 months after proof of full payment of past-due and current support payments; and

(3) The Court may order the cancellation of a bond or other collateral security imposed for a third violation of support order 24 months after proof of full payment of past-due and current support payments.

(f) When an arrearage has accrued for 90 days under a support order, and the existing support order does not include payment on arrears, the amount of the order shall, by operation of law, be increased by 10 percent of the current support order or $5, whichever is greater. The remedy specified for recovery of arrearages shall be in addition to and not in substitution for remedies available elsewhere for the enforcement of a support order.

(g) Upon a finding by the Court that an obligor owes $1,000 or more in arrears or retroactive support and is 30 or more days delinquent in payment of the child support order, in addition to any other orders, the Court may order the suspension of the obligor's license, as that term is defined in § 13 Del. C. § 2216 of this title. Such an order shall also render the obligor ineligible for the issuance or renewal of any such license.

The Court shall notify the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Director of the Division of Revenue, the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and/or the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation of the denial or suspension of a license pursuant to this subsection. Such notification may be made electronically, by computer or by such other means as the Court and the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Director of the Division of Revenue, the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation may agree, and such notification shall constitute sufficient authority for the denial or suspension of any license.

The Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Director of the Division of Revenue, the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and/or the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation shall forthwith deny the issuance or renewal of any license, or suspend the same, and so notify the obligor. The order of the Court shall be conclusive, and the action of the Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Director of the Division of Revenue, the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and/or the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation in compliance therewith shall be effective 4 days after the date notice of same is mailed to the obligor at the address on record at the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Division of Revenue, the Division of Fish and Wildlife or the Division of Professional Regulation.

The obligor shall remain ineligible for the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of any license until the obligor obtains from the Court written certification that the grounds for denial or suspension of a license under this subsection no longer exist. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as limiting the denial or suspension of any license as provided in § 13 Del. C. § 2216 of this title.

(h) If the defendant has violated the terms of an order for support, and owes arrears, the Court may order the defendant to pay such support in accordance with a plan approved by the Court or the Division. If the defendant is subject to such a plan, and is not incapacitated, the Court may order an unemployed or under-employed defendant to participate in such work activities as may be available under a program operated by a state or private agency as the Court or the Division deems appropriate. In any case in which the Court orders the defendant to participate in work activities, the Court may also order the temporary decrease of support, mediation assistance, job training, peer support or any other program or intervention it deems necessary to assist the defendant in obtaining or maintaining appropriate employment.

13 Del. C. § 517. Termination of child support.

(a) An order of current child support entered by this Court or a court of competent jurisdiction in this State shall terminate by operation of law when all minor children subject to said order have reached 18 years; provided, however, that if a child over 18 is still enrolled in high school current support shall terminate by operation of law when the child receives a high school diploma or attains the age of 19, whichever event first occurs.

13 Del. C. § 518. Accounting.

A person who receives funds from another person for the support of a child in his or her care is a fiduciary with respect to such funds and may be ordered by the Court to account for the expenditure and management of such funds on application by any payer of such funds for good cause shown. Any application filed for such an accounting shall state with particularity the reasons why it is being sought and the basis for believing that such an accounting is necessary. The Court may dismiss any application for an accounting if the application does not show good cause why such an accounting should be ordered, and the Court shall order that all costs and reasonable counsel fees incurred by the fiduciary in his or her defense be paid by the unsuccessful applicant. If an accounting is granted by the Court, it may equitably apportion the costs, including reasonable counsel fees, of the action among the parties to the proceeding after taking into account the legal and factual basis for the action, the results obtained, the financial resources of the parties, and such other factors as the Court deems just and equitable.