Divorce is not an easy thing to go through, even when everything goes according to plan. Fortunately, the actual divorce process in Delaware is fairly straightforward, especially if you meet all of the requirements for an uncontested divorce – one where you and your spouse agree on all important issues like property division and child custody and support (if you have children). In the event that you do not qualify for an uncontested divorce you may consider divorce mediation, or for more complicated divorces, seek legal representation. In the case of an uncontested divorce, you’ll need to fill out the appropriate divorce papers required in Delaware and submit them to your county clerk.
The following information will explain the basics of divorce in Delaware, and how you can move forward with your own divorce.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011 the divorce rate in Delaware was 3.6 for every 1,000 residents. This makes the state's divorce rate average when compared to other states in the United States.
Delaware allows both fault-based and no-fault divorce. In a fault-based divorce, you must prove grounds for divorce that are accepted by the state, like adultery or abuse. If you are in a situation like this, you can file at any time.
If you are filing a no-fault divorce, where you are not placing any blame for the cause of the divorce – just “irreconcilable differences” - then you must be separated from your spouse for at least six months before you can file. Delaware accepts separation even if you have been living in the same house, as long as you have not been sharing the same bedroom or having sexual relations.
Either you or your spouse must have been living in Delaware for at least six months for you to file for divorce in the state.
The specific divorce forms that you complete will vary depending on your situation – such as if you have children or not – and possibly what county you file in. It is always a good idea to call your local county clerk to verify that you are filling out the right documents before you attempt to file.
There are some forms that are standard for divorce in Delaware, including the “Petition for Divorce”, the “Information Sheet” and the “Request for Notice”. The Delaware State Courts has an area on its website devoted to divorce, where you can find important information about getting divorced in the state as well as some divorce forms for you to complete. It is always recommended that you read all available information you can find about divorce in your state before you file. The more knowledge you have about divorce, the better you will be able to look after your interests in the coming months.
One thing to remember – do not sign your documents before you are in the presence of a notary. The court will only accept notarized signatures. Many local courts offer a notary service when you go to file, but not all do. Call ahead to verify that a notary will be present before you attempt to file.
If you find the number of available forms a bit overwhelming, you are not alone. Many people find it easier to get their Delaware divorce papers completed online by CompleteCase.com. Our online divorce forms preparation service will determine the forms required for your situation and assist with the accurate completion of the documents. Our service makes it easier to move forward with confidence, knowing that you have done everything right in the filing process.
When you have completed your divorce papers online or otherwise, you will need to print out copies to file with the county clerk. You should make at least two additional copies of your documents, as you will need one for your records and one to serve to your spouse. Before you go to the courthouse, it is advisable to call ahead and verify that you are bringing everything you need, including a form of payment accepted by the court for the state filing fee.
You will file your divorce papers with the county clerk where either you or your spouse lives. The clerk will accept your documents, along with your payment, and then file those documents with the court. He or she will put an official stamp on all the necessary papers to show the date you filed.
“Serving” divorce papers simply means delivering copies of the documents to your spouse. Serving is an important part of the legal process, as it ensures that everyone involved in legal proceedings know what is happening and has a chance to respond.
Delaware makes serving papers much easier than some states. When you file your divorce paperwork with the clerk, you will submit a “Request for Notice”. In this document you will put your spouse's address. When you file you will ask the court to serve your spouse the papers using the information you provided. As long as your spouse is in Delaware, the court can ensure that the papers are served in person.
If your spouse lives outside of Delaware, you will need to let the court know so that it can serve your spouse by certified mail. When the court serves someone outside of Delaware, it also publishes a notice in the newspaper about the divorce. You will need to pay a fee for this service. If you do not know where your spouse is currently located, you will complete another document called an “Affidavit that the Party's Address is Unknown”, and have the court publish the divorce in the newspaper. Again, there is a fee for this publication.