Co-Parenting In Delaware: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

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Custody Laws in Delaware

Delaware custody laws provide a set of parameters to address the legal responsibilities of both the mother and the father regarding their child's physical and legal care. Delaware courts have the authority to enter an Order of Physical Custody, which gives one parent the right to maintain the children's primary residence. The parent who does not receive primary physical custody is typically granted parenting time, also known as visitation rights. The court will determine custody based on the Best Interests of the Child, meaning what the court believes is the most appropriate parenting plan for the children.


Child Support in Delaware

The Delaware code anoints the court system with the power to order non-custodial parents to financially support their children. A court will calculate the child support obligation, based on an established set of guidelines. In most cases, the paying parent's obligations ends when the child turns 18, reaches emancipated adulthood, or graduates from high school. The courts retain the right to grant additional support if they determine that it is in the best interests of the child.  

When making child support calculations, the court considers a number of factors, including:

  • The income and financial resources of each parent
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child
  • The child’s health, educational, and daycare expenses
  • Whether either parent is currently paying support for other children


Once the court has calculated each parent’s obligation, it will enter an order that requires the obligor (the parent paying the support) to make regular payments to the obligee (the parent receiving the payments). If either party changes their circumstances — such as if the child’s daycare costs change — the court may modify the order accordingly.


Co-Parenting Expenses in Delaware

Delaware custody laws provide a set of parameters to address the legal responsibilities between both the mother and the father, when it comes to the financial costs of raising a child. The court will typically require that both parents pay for their children's medical, dental, and educational expenses, regardless of the natural parents' separate status. Co-parenting expenses may also include extracurricular activities, tuition, and related costs.


Parental Rights in Delaware

Delaware courts recognize two forms of parental rights. The first is legal custody, which grants a parent the right to make decisions concerning the child's social, educational, and religious upbringing. The second type is physical custody, which gives a parent the right to provide the child with food, shelter, and care. In most cases, the court will award shared custody to foster healthy co-parenting relationships.


Decision Making in Delaware

When parents make decisions concerning their child, Delaware courts encourage parents to make unified decisions, as this supports positive co-parenting relationships. However, if the parents are unable to come to a unanimous agreement, Delaware law permits the court to intervene and make a decision on their behalf.


Parenting Plan in Delaware

A Delaware court must review and approve a parenting plan before it can be enforced. The court will take into consideration the wishes and best interests of the children, as well as the mental, physical, and financial health of each parent. The parenting plan must set forth specific details concerning parental duties and responsibilities, medical coverage, parental contact, holidays and vacations, and any other issues relevant to the well-being of the children.


Visitation Rights in Delaware

When making a decision regarding visitation rights, courts in Delaware will take into consideration both the best interests of the child, as well as the past conduct of the parent. The court may order supervised visitation if they believe it is in the best interests of the child. Supervised visitation must be conducted by an approved third-party trusted by both parents.


Mediation in Delaware

Delaware parental mediation programs are designed to bring parents together with a qualified mediator to discuss parenting arrangements and other issues arising from the separation. Through mediation, parents can arrive at solutions that work for them and their families in a collaborative environment, which can reduce lengthy and costly court battles.


In Delaware, mediation is voluntary, but it is still governed by several statutes. For instance, the Delaware Code Title 13, Section 709 states that parental decisions reached through mediation must still be “carefully and completely examined” to make sure that it is in the best interests of the child. Furthermore, the law requires that the mediator “encourage the parties to reach a mutual agreement” and to “provide feedback and, as appropriate, remind the parties of the possible consequences of the proposed agreement.” 


Co-parenting in Delaware is a complex issue that requires strong communication, mutual respect, and trust between both individual parties. Following established Delaware laws, guidelines, and resources can help to ensure all parties work together for the success of their children for years to come.



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Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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