TITLE 13

Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 5. DESERTION AND SUPPORT

Subchapter I. Duty to Support


(a) The duty to support a child under the age of 18 years, whether born in or out of wedlock, rests primarily upon the child's parents.

(b) Where the parents are unable to provide a minor child's minimum needs, a stepparent or a person who cohabits in the relationship of husband and wife with the parent of a minor child shall be under a duty to provide those needs. Such duty shall exist only while the child makes residence with such stepparent or person and the marriage or cohabitation continues.

(c) The duty to support a child under 18 years of age, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall rest equally upon both parents.

(d) Both parents have a duty to support their child over 18 years of age if such child is a student in high school and is likely to graduate. This duty ends when the child receives a high school diploma or attains age 19, whichever event first occurs.

Code 1852, §§ 850-853, 1468, 1472; 26 Del. Laws, c. 137; 27 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 13; Code 1915, §§ 1463, 3033, 3061; 37 Del. Laws, c. 189, § 8; Code 1935, §§ 1634, 3526, 3548; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 50 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 334, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The duty to support a spouse rests upon the other spouse.

Code 1852, §§ 850-853, 1468, 1472; 26 Del. Laws, c. 137; 27 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 13; Code 1915, §§ 1463, 3033, 3061; 37 Del. Laws, c. 189, § 8; Code 1935, §§ 1634, 3526, 3548; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 50 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1.;

Except as expressly provided in §§ 501 and 502 of this title, the duty to support a poor person unable to support himself/herself rests upon the spouse, parents, or children, in that order, subject to § 504 of this title as to expenses described therein. If the relation prior in order shall not be able, the next in order shall be liable, and several relations of the same order shall, if able, contribute according to their means.

Code 1852, §§ 850-853, 1468, 1472; 26 Del. Laws, c. 137; 27 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 13; Code 1915, §§ 1463, 3033, 3061; 37 Del. Laws, c. 189, § 8; Code 1935, §§ 1634, 3526, 3548; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 50 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The duty to support a woman pregnant with child conceived out of wedlock rests first upon the person by whom she became pregnant. Such support may include her necessary prenatal and postnatal medical, hospital, and lying-in expenses incident to the pregnancy and to the birth of the child, and such other relief as to the court shall seem reasonable.

Code 1852, §§ 850-853, 1468, 1472; 26 Del. Laws, c. 137; 27 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 13; Code 1915, §§ 1463, 3033, 3061; 37 Del. Laws, c. 189, § 8; Code 1935, §§ 1634, 3526, 3548; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 501; 50 Del. Laws, c. 207, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) The duties of support specified in §§ 501 through 504 of this title shall be performed according to the following order of priority:

(1) Duty to support one's own minor child;

(2) Duty to support a spouse;

(3) Duty to support a woman pregnant with child conceived out of wedlock;

(4) Duty to support a stepchild or the child of a person with whom the obligor cohabits in the relationship of husband and wife;

(5) Duty to support a poor person.

(b) Where a support obligor is unable to provide support adequate to the needs of 2 or more dependents of the same order of priority, a support obligor shall apportion the amount available for support as equally as possible between or among said dependents according to their respective needs.

(c) This section shall not repeal the rights of the parties as established by § 1512 of this title.

59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

No person shall be required to support another while there is just cause for failing or refusing to do so.

59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) The Family Court of the State shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all actions arising under this chapter. The Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the construction, reformation, enforcement and rescission of agreements made between future spouses, spouses and former spouses concerning the payment of support or alimony, the payment of child support or medical support, the division and distribution of marital property and marital debts and any other matters incident to a marriage, separation or divorce. The Court shall have jurisdiction to resolve any issues resulting from the construction, reformation, enforcement or rescission of an agreement. In this regard, the Court shall apply the statutory factors set forth in Chapters 5, 6 and 15 of this title. The Court shall have and exercise all other jurisdiction and powers relating to support and separate maintenance actions heretofore possessed by the Chancellor or the Court of Chancery of the State.

(b) The jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery in civil actions for separate maintenance is hereby terminated, except for such actions for separate maintenance as have been commenced in the Court of Chancery prior to the effective date hereof. The Court of Chancery shall retain exclusive jurisdiction over such latter actions.

27 Del. Laws, c. 262, § 2; Code 1915, § 3035; Code 1935, § 3528; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 503; 57 Del. Laws, c. 250, § 2; 59 Del. Laws, c. 567, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 455, § 1; 67 Del. Laws, c. 446, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 445, § 3.;

The Family Court of this State has the power to enforce any support order entered by the Superior Court pursuant to Chapter 15 of this title 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 and, under the terms of such decree, the petitioner therein (respondent herein) has been ordered to make periodic support payments to the respondent therein (petitioner herein), 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 or 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 1 or more of the following orders appropriate under the actual circumstances:

a. An order requiring respondent to comply with the support obligation specified in the Superior Court decree;

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

c. An order terminating the support obligation set forth in the Superior Court decree;

d. An order dismissing the petition;

e. An order cancelling or reducing support arrearages;

f. An order taxing the costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in these proceedings against respondent or petitioner;

g. 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;

h. 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; or

i. 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.

60 Del. Laws, c. 335, § 1.;

Unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, words and phrases used in this chapter shall have the same meaning as those defined in § 401(b) of this title. For the purposes of this chapter, the term "business day" means a day on which state offices are open for regular business.

69 Del. Laws, c. 445, § 4; 71 Del. Laws, c. 216, § 28.;