CHAPTER 540

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 13, DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO ALLOWANCE OR DIVISION OF PROPERTY UPON DIVORCE, PROVIDING FOR SUPPORT AND EXPENSE MONEY ON DECREE OF DIVORCE ON GROUNDS OF INCOMPATIBILITY AND ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS THEREFOR BY FAMILY COURT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all the members elected to each branch concurring therein):

Section 1. Chapter 15, Title 13, Delaware Code, is hereby amended by striking therefrom present Section 1531 and substituting in lieu thereof a new Section 1531 reading as follows:

§ 1531. Allowance or division of property upon divorce

(a) When a divorce shall be decreed in this State —

(1) At the suit of the husband or the wife, whatever the grounds, the wife shall be restored to all her real estate;

(2) At the suit of the wife on grounds other than non-age, voluntary separation or incompatibility, the wife shall be allowed out of her husband's real estate, personal estate, or both, such share as the court deems reasonable;

(3) At the suit of the husband or the wife except as herein-before provided, whatever the grounds, the wife may be allowed out of her husband's real estate, personal estate, or both, such share as the court deems reasonable.

(b) Any allowance or division of the property under subsection (a) of this section may be by a gross sum, annual allowance, or by an assignment by metes and bounds. The court may appoint commissioners to execute any order in the premises, and may issue writs of possession, as in the case of lands sold on execution process.

Section 2. Chapter 15, Title 13, Delaware Code, is hereby amended by adding a new Section 1537 thereto reading as follows:

§ 1537. Support and expense money on decree for incompatibility; enforcement in Family Court

(a) Where plaintiff shall seek a divorce on grounds of incompatibility and defendant shall aver in an affidavit served on plaintiff in accordance with the rules of court and filed in the action, and shall prove by a preponderance of the evidence offered at the trial or at such other time as the court may fix, defendant's dependency upon plaintiff for support and the lack of an agreement obligating plaintiff to support defendant after the entry of a final divorce decree, the court may, in its final decree of divorce, order plaintiff to make periodic support payments to defendant in such sum as seems reasonable under the circumstances of the parties, to continue while defendant remains alive and unmarried or for such shorter period as the order of the court may fix.

(b) Where dependency shall be put in issue, the court may allow defendant alimony and expense money as provided in section 1530 of this title.

(c) Any order entered pursuant to section 1537 of this title shall be enforced in this State exclusively by the Family Court in the county wherein the respondent resides or is found, or in the county where petitioner resides if respondent does not reside and cannot be found in this State, regardless of whether such petitioner was the plaintiff or the defendant in the divorce action, and such Family Court, on proper showing of either such plaintiff or such defendant or on its own motion, may modify or terminate the support obligation decreed by the Superior Court; but if it shall be made to appear to the Superior Court that entered such order that no Family Court of any county in this State shall have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings with respect to an order entered under this section, for whatever the reason, then the Superior Court that originally entered such order shall enforce the same, and such Superior Court, on a proper showing by either such plaintiff or such defendant or on its own motion, may modify or terminate the support obligation decreed thereby.

Section 3. . Chapter 5, Title 13, Delaware Code, is hereby amended by adding a new Section 512 thereto reading as follows:

§ 512. Enforcement in Family Court of Superior Court support orders entered pursuant to Section 1537, Title 13

The Family Court of any county of this State shall have the power to enforce any support order entered by the Superior Court pursuant to section 1537 of title 13, and to modify or terminate the support obligation decreed by any such order within the following limitations:

(1) Where a divorce decree has been entered by the Superior Court on grounds of incompatibility and, under the terms of such decree, the plaintiff therein has been ordered to make periodic support payments to the defendant therein, a proceeding may be brought in the Family Court under this section for the enforcement of any such order, and for the modification or termination of the support obligation decreed thereby.

(2) Proceedings shall be brought in the county wherein respondent resides or is found, or in the county wherein petitioner resides if respondent does not reside and cannot be found in this State.

(3) Proceedings shall be instituted by petition. The petition shall be verified and shall state the name, and so far as is known to the petitioner, the address and circumstances of the respondent, shall identify the divorce decree, shall include as an exhibit thereto a certified copy of such decree, and shall state any other pertinent information and the relief prayed for. A minor shall be represented by a guardian ad litem.

(4) The Family Court, after a hearing, may enter one or more of the following orders appropriate under the actual circumstances:

(i) An order requiring respondent to comply with the support obligation specified in the Superior Court decree;

(ii) An order requiring respondent to comply with the support order set forth in the Superior Court decree as modified by the Family Court;

(iii) An order terminating the support obligation set forth in the Superior Court decree;

(iv) An order dismissing the petition;

(v) An order cancelling or reducing support arrearages;

(vi) An order taxing the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in these proceedings against respondent or petitioner;

(vii) An order requiring respondent to furnish recognizance in the form of a cash deposit or bond of such character and in such amount as the Family Court may deem proper to assure payment of any amount required to be paid by respondent;

(viii) An order requiring respondent to make payments at specified intervals to the Family Court and to report personally to the Family Court at such times as may be deemed necessary; and

(ix) An order punishing respondent who shall violate any order of the Family Court to the same extent as is provided for by law for contempt of the court in any other suit or proceeding cognizable by the court.

(5) Participation in any proceedings under this section shall not confer upon any court jurisdiction of any of the parties thereto in any other proceeding.

Section 4. If any section, subsection, sentence, phrase or word of this Act is declared unconstitutional under the Constitution of the State of Delaware or of the United States, by any state or federal court of competent jurisdiction, or is otherwise held to be invalid, the remainder of this Act shall be unimpaired and shall continue in full force and effect.

Section 5. This Act shall become effective upon its approval by the Governor and shall be inapplicable to any action for divorce filed with the Court prior to that time.

Approved June 9, 1970.