CHAPTER 122

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 227

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 9, TITLE 10 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO COMMISSIONERS OF THE FAMILY COURT.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend §915(a) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the present subsection (a) in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(a) The Governor shall appoint, with the consent of a majority of all members elected to the Senate, suitable persons to act as Commissioners of the Family Court, all of whom shall hold office for a term of 4 years and shall be residents of the State for at least 5 years immediately preceding their appointment. An incumbent Commissioner and/or Master of the Family Court may be appointed as a Commissioner, so long as he or she is duly admitted to practice before the highest court of any State of the United States. Other appointees shall be duly admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of this State.

The number of Commissioners appointed shall not be less than five, with at least one Commissioner assigned to each county.

The salaries of such Commissioners shall be part of the annual budget of the Family Court and shall reflect the educational background and experience of the appointees."

Section 2. Amend §915(b) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the present subsection (b) in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(b) Individuals appointed as Commissioners under this section shall take the oath of office or affirmation prescribed in Article XIV §1 of the Delaware Constitution before they enter upon the duties of their office."

Section 3. Amend §915(c) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the portion of said section as appears before the first colon (':') and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

The Chief Judge shall assign Commissioners to the several courts and shall establish a procedure for the assignment of cases to the Commissioners. Each Commissioner serving under this chapter shall have:"

Section 4. Amend §915(c) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by adding a new subsection (2) as follows and renumbering the remaining subsections:

"(2) The power to hear any civil case within the jurisdiction of the Family Court, as designated by the Chief Judge;"

Section 5. Amend subsection §915(c)(5) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the words "pending adjudication" from the first sentence.

Section 6. Amend subsection §915(c)(6) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by adding after the word "persons" and before the word "charged", the following: who have failed to appear for a prior court hearing, either civil or criminal, or who are".

Section 7. Amend subsection §915(c)(10) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the words "with the consent of the parties" and adding after the word "sentence" and before the word for the following: ", including incarceration,".

Section 8. Amend §915(c) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by adding a new subsection to read as follows:

"(11) The power to impose sanctions, including incarceration, for civil contempt."

Section 9. Amend §915(d) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the present subsection (d) in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(d) A Commissioner's order, including emergency ex parte orders, shall be an enforceable order of the Court.

(1) Any party, except a party in default of appearance before a Commissioner, may appeal a final order of a Commissioner to a judge of the Court by filing and serving written objections to such order, as provided by rules of the Court, within 10 days from the date of a Commissioner's order. A judge of the Court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the Commissioner's order to which objection is made. A judge of the Court may accept, reject or modify in whole or in part the order of the Commissioner. The judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the Commissioner with instruction.

(2) Any party, except a party in default of appearance before a Commissioner, may appeal an interim order of a Commissioner to a judge of the Court by filing and serving written objections to such order, as provided by rules of the Court, within 10 days from the date of a Commissioner's order. A judge of the Court may reconsider any interim order of a Commissioner, where it is shown that the Commissioner's order is based upon findings of fact that are clearly erroneous, contrary to law, or an abuse of discretion."

Section 10. Amend §915(e) of Title 10 of the Delaware Code by striking the present subsection (e) in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(e) No appeal of a Commissioner's order shall stay execution of the order unless such stay shall be specifically ordered by a judge of the Court."

Section 11. Amend §915, Chapter 9, Title 10, Delaware Code by adding thereto a new subsection (f) to read as follows:

"(f) A Commissioner may be assigned such additional duties by the Chief Judge as are not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the State of Delaware."

Approved July 12, 1993.