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Q&A Topics: Family Law


Q: If my marriage ceremony took place in a different state, can I get a divorce in Delaware?

A: Yes. Under Delaware state law, the Family Court has jurisdiction over actions for divorce if, at the time the petition is filed, either party presently lives in Delaware and has lived in the state for six consecutive months.


Q: Are marital assets and debts always divided equally in a divorce?

A: No. They are “equitably” divided in Delaware, but an equitable division is not necessarily an equal division. In order to determine what constitutes an equitable division, the Family Court considers 11 specific factors, such as the age and health of the parties and the contribution of the parties to the growth or squandering of the marital estate.


Q: If alimony is awarded, does it last forever?

A: No. A dependent husband or wife is eligible to receive alimony for a period no longer than half the length of the marriage, unless the parties were married for 20 years or longer, in which case there is then no time limit to eligibility. Regardless of the duration of eligibility, under Delaware law, alimony terminates with the death of either party or when the party receiving alimony remarries or cohabits.


Q: Is it true that, in custody, the law favors the mother?

A: No. Delaware law specifically provides that neither parent has a presumption of right or superior fitness. The state’s Family Court judges are tasked with making custody and visitation decisions that are in the best interests of the child or children involved. The presiding judge is required to consider all relevant factors, which must include eight specific factors, such as the child’s wishes, any history of domestic violence, and the mental and physical health of the parties.


Q: Must child support be paid while a child is in college?

A: No. A Delaware order to pay support for a child is in effect only until the child turns 18 and is no longer enrolled in high school, or turns 19, whichever occurs first. However, support orders do not terminate automatically, and the court will only address the termination of a support obligation after one of the parties files an application with the court.


Leslie B. Spoltore is a partner in the Wilmington office of the national law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. She is an experienced commercial and personal litigator who handles a range of family law matters, including divorce, adoptions, custody and guardianship, pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, and property division, as well as child support and alimony. Ms. Spoltore also provides alternative dispute resolution services to her clients, serving as a neutral assessor, mediator and arbitrator to help facilitate effective and expedient out-of-court solutions to contentious matters.


Leslie B. Spoltore · Fox Rothschild LLP · Citizens Bank Center · 919 North Market Street, Suite 300 · P.O. Box 2323 · Wilmington, DE 19899 · 302.622.4203 · www.foxrothschild.com

Leslie B. Spoltore, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP

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