Courts, Laws, and Protection



The Details






The information on this page and in the resources provided is NOT intended to be legal advice. If you would like to know how to protect your rights or seek other legal advice, contact an attorney.

Contact Information

Administrative Office of the Courts
Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
(formerly New Castle County Courthouse)
500 North King Street, Suite 3500
Wilmington, DE 19801

For information and access to the Family Court Call Center:
(302) 255-0300




Delaware's Courts


About Delaware's Courts System



Courts, Laws, and Protection Guide graphic with a gavel, court, State Seal and scales

Courts, Laws, and Protection Guide

Delaware's judicial court system is composed of several courts including the Delaware Supreme Court, Court of Chancery, Superior Court, Family Court, Court of Common Pleas, Justice of the Peace Court, Administrative Office of the Courts, and related agencies.


Access the entire Delaware State Code 




View the Delaware State Constitution



Related Links



Civil Matters


Civil Matters graphic

Civil Matters


Change your name



Change of name petition instructions vary by county. Each county requires change of name petitioners to publish their change of name in an approved newspaper and pay an initial $85.00 filing fee. For county-specific instructions and forms visit Delaware Courts.



Concealed Carry



Applying for a Concealed Carry Firearm Permit



Please Note

  • Delaware Superior Court only grants a license to carry a concealed firearm after the Attorney General’s Office investigates and recommends the application.
  • Only Delaware residents can apply for a Delaware concealed carrying license.
  • The application for a concealed carry license is different for retired Delaware police officers.



For concealed carry application instructions, read How to Apply for/ Renew a License to Carry a Concealed Firearm.




Reciprocity with other states



During the period of January 15, 2019 - January 14, 2020, Delaware also recognizes concealed firearm licenses issued by the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Idaho *(enhanced permits only)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota *(Class 1 permits only)
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota *(enhanced permits only)
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

Individuals with concealed carrying permits from these states are also permitted to carry a concealed weapon in Delaware.




Brandishing



Delaware law prohibits Menacing/ brandishing of firearms.

(a) A person is guilty of menacing when by some movement of body or any instrument the person intentionally places another person in fear of imminent physical injury.

(b) A person is guilty of aggravated menacing when by displaying what appears to be a deadly weapon that person intentionally places another person in fear of imminent physical injury. Aggravated menacing is a class E felony.


Delaware Code:  11 Del C § 602 Menacing; unclassified misdemeanor



Related Links:




File a Lawsuit



Civil lawsuits are cases in which a corporation or individual files a lawsuit against another corporation or individual in pursuit of monetary compensation for injury or damages.

Learn more about types of claims and where to file lawsuit paperwork.




Find Legal Representation



The Delaware Courts Legal Assistance page provides resources for citizens who are searching for legal representation, free or low-cost legal assistance, or self-representation information. 




Filing an Appeal



An appeal is a reviewed by a higher court to determine whether any mistakes occurred and, if so, whether the party who filing the appeal is entitled to have the decision of the lower court reversed.

The Appellate Handbook is a resource for those seeking to file an appeal.

File an appeal here.




Pardons and Expungements



Pardons

A pardon completely eliminates all consequences of a conviction. A pardon does not remove the record of conviction, but it does dismiss any further punishment for the conviction and restore the convicted person’s civil rights. A person who was convicted of a crime as an adult must have a pardon in order to apply for an expungement. However, being granted a pardon does not guarantee that the individual will be granted an expungement.





Expungements



An expungement completely eliminates the history of the charges from an individual’s record. Expungements are typically granted in the cases that an individual is acquitted of a charge, the prosecutor/ plaintiff formally abandons the case, or the charge is otherwise dismissed. Individuals who were convicted of a crime as an adult and have already served their sentence, can apply for an expungement after a pardon has been granted.





Opinions and Orders



Search and access all Delaware court orders and opinions from 1983 to present.




Traffic Tickets



Paying a Ticket

You may pay traffic tickets online, at the kiosk, in person, by mail, or by fax. You must pay the full amount of the ticket within 30 days of receiving the ticket. In most cases, tickets and payments should be mailed to the Justice of the Peace Court Voluntary Assessment Center. However, you should always check the front of your ticket to verify information about where to the mail the ticket or where you must appear in court.

  • Pay by Mail:
    Enclose a copy of the ticket and a check, money order, or credit card. If paying by credit card, fill out the credit card information section on the ticket. If paying by check or money order write the ticket number on it and make it out to “State of Delaware”.

    Mail to:  State of Delaware - Voluntary Assessment Center, P.O. Box 7039, Dover, DE 19903


DO NOT mail cash. If you need a receipt, include a self-addressed and stamped envelope with your payment.

  • Pay by Fax:
    Payments by fax must be made using a credit card. Fill out the credit card information section on your ticket and fax a copy of the ticket to (302) 739-7590.
  • Pay by Phone:
    Payments by phone must be made using a credit card. Call (302) 739-6911 and be sure to have your credit card and a copy of your ticket with you.
  • Pay Online:
    Online payments may be made by credit card or electronic check. In order to make an online payment, you must have either a ticket number or case number and the last name of the defendant. Make an online payment.
  • Pay at the Kiosk:
    Payments at the Kiosk may be made with cash or with Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit or debit card. In order to make a payment at the Kiosk, you must have either a ticket number or case number and the last name of the defendant. Find a Kiosk location.

View Frequently Asked Traffic Questions (FAQs) here




Family Court


Family Court graphic

Family Court


Become a Guardian


Important

Guardians are granted a Custody Order and have the same legal authority as a parent would, but the Court can limit the powers granted to a guardian.

Please read the Guardianship Instruction Packet for complete information and instructions on obtaining legal guardianship.


Any person over the age of 18 can be the legal guardian to a child, but if the person is not a relative of the child, Division of Family Services must assess the placement. Relatives include:

  • Immediate family members
  • Half-siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts / Uncles
  • Great-aunts / Great-uncles
  • First cousins

Guardians are responsible for providing a healthy and safe living environment, education, and all necessary medical treatment for the child. Guardians are responsible for the following decisions:

  • Education
  • Travel
  • Medical treatment
  • Right to marry
  • Right to enlist in the military
  • Representation in legal matters
  • Welfare and upbringing
  • Where the child will live

The parent’s parental rights are not terminated when a non-parent is granted guardianship, so the parent may have to continue to provide financial support for the child. The Court will also determine:

  • How much contact the parent(s) will have with the child
  • How much information about the child the guardian should share with the parent(s)
  • A visitation schedule, if appropriate

When petitioning for guardianship, the petitioner must demonstrate one of the following things to the court:

  • The parent voluntarily consents to the guardianship. If the parent voluntarily consents, he/she must complete an Affidavit of Consent
  • The child is vulnerable, neglected, or abused in the parent’s care and it is in the best interest of the child that the petitioner be appointed legal guardian


Please Note

Only a non-parent can file for guardianship. Parents who want to provide legal care and protection for their child should file for custody.

Guardianship is the possession by a non-parent of the powers, rights, and duties which are necessary to protect, manage, and care for a child.




Become a Permanent Guardian



Please read the Permanent Guardianship Instruction Packet for complete information and instructions on obtaining permanent legal guardianship.


Only a blood relative or foster parent may serve as a permanent guardian.

  • Permanent guardianship allows a caretaker and child to develop a permanent relationship and a create a family without having to terminate the parental rights of the child’s parent(s).

Permanent guardians are responsible for providing a healthy and safe living environment, education, and all necessary medical treatment for the child. Guardians are responsible for the following decisions:

  • Education
  • Travel
  • Medical treatment
  • Right to marry
  • Right to enlist in the military
  • Representation in legal matters
  • Welfare and upbringing
  • Where the child will live

The parent’s parental rights are not terminated when a non-parent is granted permanent guardianship, so the parent may have to continue to provide financial support for the child. The Court will also determine:

  • How much contact the parent(s) will have with the child
  • How much information about the child the guardian should share with the parent(s)
  • A visitation schedule, if appropriate

Once a permanent guardianship is granted, a parent may not petition the Court to change or terminate the permanent guardianship.



Get Child Support



According to Delaware law, both parents have a duty to support their child until the child is 18 years old, or, if the child is still in high school, until the child graduates or turns 19 years old, whichever comes first.

Here are child support forms and explanations.



Legal Care of a Child



The Delaware Family Court provides this chart to help easily distinguish different types of legal care and who can apply for them.




Obtain Custody of a Child




Please Note

Under Delaware law, both parents are joint natural custodians of their child. When parents are separated, one or both parents can petition the Court for custody of the child.



Whether parents share joint custody of the child or one parent has sole custody of the child, each parent has a right to request and receive from the other parent all materials and information concerning the child’s:

  • Medical records and treatment
  • Progress in school
  • School conferences
  • Other events and activities the child participates in

Both parents also have the right to contact the child by phone or mail. The Court may restrict these rights if they would present physical or mental danger to the child.

  • Court orders will contain a visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent


Tip / Reminder

Please read the Child Custody Instruction Packet for complete information and instructions on obtaining custody.

Instructivo para casos de tenencia de menores (Spanish)


Read more information about custody proceedings and access all custody forms.



Related Links




 Marriage


Effective July 1, 2013, same-sex marriages are legal in Delaware

Delaware state law recognizes marriages between same-sex Delaware couples as legal relationships. In addition, persons of the same gender who are in legal unions (marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc.) established in other jurisdictions have the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law.



Where to Apply for a Marriage License



New Castle County

Clerk of the Peace Office
800 N. French Street
Second Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

Hours:
Mon. - Fri.
8:00 am - 3:30 pm


Kent County

Clerk of the Peace Office
555 Bay Road
Dover, DE 19901

Hours:
Mon. - Fri.
8:00 am - 4:15 pm


Sussex County

Sussex County Administrative Building
Room 226, Second Floor
2 The Circle
Georgetown, DE 19947

Hours:
Mon. - Fri. 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Or apply for a marriage license online.




Application Requirements



  • Applicants must be at least 18 years of age to marry in the state of Delaware.
  • A couple must appear together to apply for a marriage license.
  • A marriage license must be obtained at least 24 hours prior to the wedding ceremony and is valid for 30 days. The ceremony must take place in the state of Delaware.
  • The marriage license fee is $70.00 if either applicant is a Delaware resident. The fee is $120.00 if neither applicant is a Delaware resident.
  • Applicants must provide a valid form of identification
  • If an applicant has been previously married, an original or certified copy of the divorce decree, annulment, dissolution, or death certificate of the most recent spouse is required.
  • Applicants who are on probation or parole are required to have special authorization before applying.
  • Applicants cannot be related.
  • Applicants cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of application or during the wedding ceremony.
  • Applicants will need to provide parents’ birth names and birthplaces.

For more information about marriage licenses in Delaware, please visit here.




 Divorce/ Annulment



Difference Between Divorce and Annulment



A divorce legally ends a marriage. An annulment is the legal declaration that the marriage never existed.

Under § 1506 of Title 13 of Delaware Code, parties of a marriage entered into under any of the following circumstances can seek an annulment:

  • A person 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. Either spouse in the marriage or the legal representative of the aggrieved spouse has 90 after obtaining knowledge of this incapacitated condition to seek an annulment.
  • A person 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. No later than 1 year after obtaining knowledge of this condition, either spouse can petition for an annulment.
  • A person was less than legal age, if the marriage was not confirmed by such party after reaching legal age. No later than 1 year after the date of the marriage, the under-aged spouse or his/her parents may petition for an annulment.
  • One person 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. Either spouse in the marriage or the legal representative of the aggrieved spouse has 90 after obtaining knowledge of this act to seek an annulment.
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage due to threat exercised by the other party or a third party, whether or not such other party knew of such threat. Either party to the marriage or legal representative of the aggrieved party has 90 after obtaining knowledge of this threat to seek an annulment.
  • One or both parties entered into the marriage as a joke or dare. Either party to the marriage or legal representative of the aggrieved party has 90 after obtaining knowledge of this condition to seek an annulment.
  • Marriage is prohibited, void or voidable between a person and their ancestor, descendant, siblings, half-siblings, uncle/aunt, niece/nephew or first cousin.

Read § 101 of Title 13 for more information regarding prohibited marriage.



Filing for Divorce



Resources

The Family Court offers divorce/annulment instructional packets that explain which forms need to be filed and how to file them. These materials are available for free through the links below, and for a nominal fee in the Resource Centers.


Stipulations

Unless parties are filing on the grounds of misconduct, the Court will not proceed with the divorce until the married parties have been separated for at least 6 months. Parties filing for divorce on the basis of misconduct must have evidence to prove the misconduct.

Some examples of misconduct include:

  • Physical, mental, or psychological abuse
  • Adultery
  • Desertion

Parties with children must attend a Parent Education Class and submit the required certificates of completion to the Court before the divorce can proceed. Click here for a listing of approved Parent Education Classes.


Where to File for Divorce/Annulment:

Family Court of the State of Delaware


New Castle County

Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
500 N. King Street
Wilmington, Delaware 19899

Phone:  (302) 255-0300


Kent County

Family Court of the State of Delaware
400 Court Street
Dover, Delaware 19901

Phone:  (302) 672-1000


Sussex County

Family Court of the State of Delaware
22 The Circle
Georgetown, Delaware 19947

Phone:  (302) 855-7400


NOTE: Completing all the required forms and filing for divorce or annulment does not guarantee that Family Court will grant your request.



Legal Representation for Divorce/ Annulment

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney due to low income, you might be eligible for free legal services. Check you eligibility through the Delaware Legal Help Link

Choosing to represent yourself is called pro se representation. If you choose pro se representation, you will be expected to follow all the same rules and regulations that licensed attorneys have to follow.

  • If you represent yourself, you will not be permitted to skip or mishandle procedures because you were confused about when or how to do something.
  • Even if you choose to represent yourself, you should talk to an attorney if you are confused about anything at any point in the process. Note that only a lawyer can make recommendations about what to do and how to protect yourself.

For more information about divorces and annulments in Delaware, please visit the Family Courts website.



 Violence and Abuse




Important

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.

Report child abuse by calling 800-292-9582



Adult Protective Services & Elder Abuse



Adult Protective Services (APS) responds to cases of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of impaired or dependent adults. APS typically serves individuals 18 years of age and older who have a physical or mental impairment and are not living in a long-term care facility.




Animal Welfare and Protection



The Office of Animal Welfare coordinates companion animal programs in Delaware and promotes the protection, health, safety & welfare of animals in the state of Delaware. The Office of Animal Protection also promotes spay & neuter programs, animal control, dog licensing, lost & found registry and care resources.

  • For Delaware Animal related concerns call:  (302) 255-4646 or Fax 302-255-4621
  • Visit the Office of Animal Welfare's website here
  • For additional animal control & cruelty prevention resources visit here



Child Abuse



Report child abuse at 800-292-9582 (24/7 line) or make a report online 

All suspected child abuse and neglect must be reported to the Division of Family Services Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line or online. You are not required to provide proof. Informants will not be prosecuted if the report is made on reasonable grounds and in good faith.



Domestic Violence



Domestic Violence takes different forms:
  • Physical:  Any type of assault committed against a spouse/significant other, children, or pets.
  • Sexual:  Engaging in any kind of sexual activity without consent, even if the victim is a spouse/significant other.
  • Emotional:  Using emotions to manipulate or have control over a family member or spouse/significant other.
  • Economic:  Controlling money in a way that keeps the other spouse/significant other financially powerless.



What to do if you suspect domestic abuse:

  • Call 911 if you hear or see violence. Do not put yourself in danger by getting involved and do not wait for the situation to resolve itself.
  • Offer your support to the victim(s). You may try to secretly provide the victim with the number to a local shelter or support service.



24 Hour hotlines


For additional Domestic Prevention resources and information visit the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC) and Delaware Victims' Rights Task Force



Department of Justice Domestic Violence Unit






Protection from Abuse (PFA)



Who can petition for protection from abuse?

PFA petitions can be filed against any person with whom you have the following relationship with:

  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Persons who live together and call themselves a couple (with or without children)
  • Persons living separately who have a child/children in common
  • Persons in a current or former dating relationship
  • This might include people whom you referred to as a boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancé. This also includes people you courted, dated (even casually), or spent time with in a potentially romantic way.

A PFA petition may also can be filed against someone who you have any of the following familial relationships to:

  • Parent or child (including step and in-law)
  • Brother or sister (including in-law)
  • Son or daughter (including in-laws, and in situations where parental rights have been terminated)
  • Grandparent or grandchild
  • Any other family member that you are related to by blood, adoption, or marriage, but only if you reside in one home under one head.

What is Abuse?

Under Delaware Code Title 10 C.§ 1041 

"Abuse" means conduct which constitutes the following:

  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause physical injury or a sexual offense, as defined in § 761 of Title 11
  2. Intentionally or recklessly placing or attempting to place another person in reasonable apprehension of physical injury or sexual offense to such person or another;
  3. Intentionally or recklessly damaging, destroying or taking the tangible property of another person;
  4. Engaging in a course of alarming or distressing conduct in a manner which is likely to cause fear or emotional distress or to provoke a violent or disorderly response;
  5. Trespassing on or in property of another person, or on or in property from which the trespasser has been excluded by court order;
  6. Child abuse, as defined in Chapter 9 of Title 16;
  7. Unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, interference with custody and coercion, as defined in Title 11 C. §781, §782, and §783 ; or
  8. Any other conduct which a reasonable person under the circumstances would find threatening or harmful.

Temporary Orders
  • The typical duration for a temporary PFA order is up to 15 days
  • The order may be extended up to 30 days if the PFA trial is rescheduled

Permanent Orders

The following protective provisions of a PFA order can last for up to 2 years:

  • Stay 100 yards away from petitioner, residence, and workplace
  • No firearms, ammunition, or deadly weapons
  • No contact of any kind
  • No further abuse

Protective provisions may be ordered for longer than 2 years upon consent of the parties involved or upon finding an aggravating circumstance such as:
  • Physical injury
  • Use of firearm
  • Past domestic violence convictions
  • Repeated violation of prior PFAs
  • Any situation where there is an immediate or ongoing danger to the petitioner or any member of his/her household

Ancillary provisions of a PFA order are limited to 1 year. These include:
  • Custody and visitation with children
  • Payment of support
  • Temporary possession of homes and personal property


VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday)



VINE is a victim information system. Victims may register with VINE if the offender is in custody or if a protective order has been filed to receive notifications about the offender’s custody events such as releases, transfers, and escapes. Users can also register to be notified about court hearings, cancellations/changes, and other news pertaining to the trial.

Information and Resources



Wanted Persons and Sex Offenders





Fraud and Consumer Protection



Graphic with the text Fraud and Consumer Protection

Fraud and Consumer Protection


Do Not Call List



What is the Do Not Call List?

Register for the Do Not Call List



Identity Theft



If you suspect identity theft:
  • Contact the police and obtain a police report. Reporting the crime to the police alerts them of the suspicious activity and establishes that you acted diligently.
  • The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at (800) 220-5424. The Consumer Protection Unit can help you get in touch with the proper police agency if you are unsure of who to contact.
  • Report the credit fraud to the three major credit bureaus and ask them to place a “fraud alert” on your credit report. You may also consider placing a security freeze on your credit report.
  • Contact the fraud department of each of your banks, creditors, and companies that have your credit information. Even if that creditor has not been directly affected by the fraud, alert them and place a ‘fraud alert’ on your account.



An Important Note

Report identity fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC maintains a confidential national identity theft database and may be of assistance to you as you try to find and prosecute your identity thief.

Call the FTC at 1 (877)-438-4338

For more information, visit the Delaware's Division of Revenue's Identity Theft and Victim Assistance page




Medicaid Fraud



Medicaid fraud occurs when a healthcare provider gives false information about patients, treatments, or services in order to collect more money from Medicaid than they are entitled to. Healthcare providers include:

  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Clinics
  • Pharmacies
  • Ambulance companies
  • This also includes anyone else who is paid by Medicaid for providing healthcare services
 

 Medicaid fraud might also involve a thief using another person’s medical card or information to get healthcare goods, services, or funds.

For information about the many types of Medicaid Fraud, read more here.





Please Note

Report Medicaid Fraud anonymously by calling the Delaware Department of Justice Healthcare Provider Fraud Hotline at (302) 577-5000



Related Links




Jury Duty


Jury Duty graphic

Jury Duty


Excusal from Jury Duty

Members in the following groups or occupational classes will be excused from Jury Service because serving on a jury would cause unnecessary hardship or extreme inconvenience, or because their occupation is deemed a public necessity:

  • Served on a grand jury or petit jury within the past two years
  • Over 70 years of age
  • Jury service would violate deeply-held religious beliefs
  • Essential health-care providers
  • Full-time police officers or firefighters
  • Active full-time U.S. armed services or Delaware State National Guard
  • Active full-time clergy
  • Self-employed or paid primarily on commission

Other hardships and additional documentation might include

  • Medical requests- submit a doctor’s note
  • Employment deferments- submit a letter from your supervisor
  • If you have moved out of state- submit a copy of your new driver’s license for that state
  • If you are not a citizen- submit a copy of your green card, visa, or other legal documentation
  • If you are a business owner- submit a copy of your business license
  • If you are a student- submit a copy of your school class schedule or other document verifying enrollment

Please Note

To be excused for any of the reasons listed above, you must still complete your Qualification Questionnaire.

If you are requesting excusal due to age, you must send a copy of your juror questionnaire and a copy of your driver’s license to Jury Services.



New Castle County

Jury Services

Leonard L. Williams Justice Center
500 North King Street, Suite 1800
Wilmington, DE 19801

Phone: (302) 255-0824
Fax: (302) 255-2263


Kent County

Jury Services

Prothonotary
Kent County Superior Court
38 The Green
Dover, DE 19901

Phone: (302) 735-1900
Fax: (302) 739-7162


Sussex County

Jury Services

Prothonotary of Sussex County
Sussex County Courthouse
1 The Circle, Suite 2
Georgetown, DE 19947 - 1504

Phone: (302) 855-7055
Fax: (302) 856-5955




Qualification Questionnaire



Everybody who is summoned to jury duty must complete the Qualification Questionnaire.

You can either fill out the Qualification Questionnaire at the bottom of your Jury Summons, or you can complete it online.

You will not be able to request a new jury date or excusal from Jury Duty until you complete the Questionnaire.



Reporting



Where to Report:

New Castle County

500 North King Street
Suite 1800
Wilmington, DE 19801

Phone: (302) 255-0800


Kent County

414 Federal Street
Dover, DE 19901

Phone: (302) 735-1900


Sussex County

1 The Circle
Georgetown, DE 19947

Phone: (302) 855-7055





Work Certification



If your employer needs confirmation of the dates and hours which you served on Jury Duty, call the Jury Services Office in your county to request a work certification:



For more information about jury duty in Delaware, visit Information for Jurors.



Related Links




 Law Enforcement



Related Law Enforcement







 Law Professionals and Specialists



Professionals and Specialists






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