CHAPTER 264

RELATING TO FAMILY COURT OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 9 TITLE 10 DELAWARE CODE BY GRANTING TO THE FAMILY COURT FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY, DELAWARE, SPECIAL JURISDICTION WITH EQUITABLE POWERS IN CIVIL ACTION ARISING IN NEW CASTLE COUNTY FOR SUPPORT OF MINOR CHILDREN AND/OR SEPARATE MAINTENANCE OF A WIFE AND REMOVING JURISDICTION OVER SAID ACTIONS FROM THE COURT OF CHANCERY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware, (two-thirds of the Members elected to each Branch thereof concurring herein):

Section 1. That Chapter 9 of Title 10 Delaware Code be amended by adding a new § 963 immediately following § 962 of said Chapter as follows :

§ 963. Equitable powers in civil actions for support and/or separate maintenance

The Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in New Castle County over civil actions heretofore within the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery in which it is alleged that the father of a minor child or children has, without just cause, deserted them or willfully neglected them, and has refused to provide for their necessary support and maintenance, or in which a wife claims in a sworn petition that her husband has, without just cause, deserted her or willfully neglected her and has refused to provide for her necessary support and maintenance.

In either such proceeding:

1. The Court may make a money award in such single amount or in such stated periodic amounts as it deems proper for the support and maintenance of the said children and/or the

support and maintenance of the petitioning wife for a discretionary period of time or for so long as respondent's desertion shall continue. Such award shall be based on :

(a) The manner of living to which the parties have been accustomed ;

(b) The financial ability and/or earning capacity of the respondent ; and

() The general equities inherent in the situation.

2. The Court shall have and exercise all other jurisdiction and powers relating to support and separate maintenance actions heretofore possessed by the Chancellor and/or the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware.

3. The child or children, acting through a next friend, shall possess all rights heretofore possessed by destitute, deserted or neglected children in an action for support in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware; and the petitioning wife shall possess all rights heretofore possessed by a destitute, deserted or neglected wife in an action for support and/or separate maintenance in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, including but not limited to the following:

(a) The right to institute and retain complete control of the suit.

() The right to select counsel with the right, in the discretion of the Court, to an award against the father and/or husband, of the expenses of litigation.

(a) The right to have any order or decree entered in favor of the next friend and/or the petitioning wife enforced by attachment of the father and/or husband, or by sequestration of his property.

(b) The right to appeal, in the name of the next friend and/or the petitioning wife, as the case may be, to the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in the event any said action results in an order or decree adverse to the interest of the children and/or the petitioning wife. Said appeal shall be in form and in manner as provided by law.

4. These civil provisions are in addition to the Court's jurisdiction over the criminal or quasi-criminal proceedings in which the State acts, on behalf of a deserted, neglected or unsupported wife, against her husband.

Approved June 9, 1955.