TITLE 13

Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 19. UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT

Subchapter I. General Provisions


This chapter may be cited as the "Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act."

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Abandoned" means left without provision for reasonable and necessary care or supervision.

(2) "Child" means an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

(3) "Child custody determination" means a judgment, decree or other order of a court providing for the legal custody, physical custody or visitation with respect to a child. The term includes a permanent, temporary, initial and modification order. The term does not include an order relating to child support or other monetary obligation of an individual.

(4) "Child custody proceeding" means a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody or visitation with respect to a child is an issue. The term includes a proceeding for divorce, separation, neglect, abuse, dependency, guardianship, paternity, termination of parental rights and protection from domestic violence, in which the issue may appear. The term does not include a proceeding involving juvenile delinquency, contractual emancipation or enforcement under subchapter III of this chapter.

(5) "Commencement" means the filing of the first pleading in a proceeding.

(6) "Court" means the Family Court of the State.

(7) "Home State" means the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding. In the case of a child less than 6 months of age, the term means the state in which the child lived from birth with any of the persons mentioned. A period of temporary absence of any of the mentioned persons is part of the period.

(8) "Initial determination" means the first child custody determination concerning a particular child.

(9) "Issuing court" means the court that makes a child custody determination for which enforcement is sought under this chapter.

(10) "Issuing State" means the state in which a child custody determination is made.

(11) "Modification" means a child custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination.

(12) "Person" means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, government, governmental subdivision, agency or instrumentality, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(13) "Person acting as a parent" means a person, other than a parent, who:

a. Has physical custody of the child or has had physical custody for a period of 6 consecutive months, including any temporary absence, within 1 year immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding; and

b. Has been awarded legal custody by a court or claims a right to legal custody under the law of this State.

(14) "Physical custody" means the physical care and supervision of a child.

(15) "State" means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United State Virgin Islands or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(16) "Tribe" means an Indian tribe or band, or Alaska Native village, which is recognized by federal law or formally acknowledged by a state.

(17) "Warrant" means an order issued by a court authorizing law enforcement officers to take physical custody of a child.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

This chapter does not govern a termination of parental rights proceeding related to an adoption proceeding brought by a licensed Delaware agency or an adoption proceeding or a proceeding pertaining to the authorization of emergency medical care for a child.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 94, § 1.;

(a) A child custody proceeding that pertains to an Indian child as defined in the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., is not subject to this chapter to the extent that it is governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act.

(b) A court of the state shall treat a tribe as if it were a state of the United States for the purpose of applying subchapters I and II of this chapter.

(c) A child custody determination made by a tribe under factual circumstances in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional standards of this chapter must be recognized and enforced under subchapter III of this chapter.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) A court of this State shall treat a foreign country as if it were a state of the United States for the purpose of applying subchapters I and II of this chapter.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, a child custody determination made in a foreign country under factual circumstances in substantial conformity with the jurisdictional standards of this chapter must be recognized and enforced under subchapter III of this chapter.

(c) A court of this State need not apply this chapter if the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

A child custody determination made by a court of this State that had jurisdiction under this chapter binds all persons who have been served in accordance with the laws of this State or notified in accordance with § 1908 of this chapter or who have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and who have been given an opportunity to be heard. As to those persons, the determination is conclusive as to all decided issues of law and fact except to the extent the determination is modified.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

If a question of existence or exercise of jurisdiction under this chapter is raised in a child custody proceeding, the question, upon request of a party, must be given priority on the calendar and handled expeditiously.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) Notice required for the exercise of jurisdiction when a person is outside this State may be given in a manner prescribed by the law of this State for service of process or by the law of the state in which the service is made. Notice must be given in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice but may be by publication if other means are not effective.

(b) Proof of service may be made in the manner prescribed by the law of this State or by the law of the state in which the service is made.

(c) Notice is not required for the exercise of jurisdiction with respect to a person who submits to the jurisdiction of the court.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) A party to a child custody proceeding, including a modification proceeding or a petitioner or respondent in a proceeding to enforce or register a child custody determination is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this State for another proceeding or purpose solely by reason of having participated or of having been physically present for the purpose of participating in the proceeding.

(b) A person who is subject to personal jurisdiction in this State on a basis other than physical presence is not immune from service of process in this State. A party present in this State who is subject to the jurisdiction of another state is not immune from service of process allowable under the laws of that state.

(c) The immunity granted by subsection (a) of this section does not extend to civil litigation based on acts unrelated to the participation in a proceeding under this chapter committed by an individual while present in this State.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) A court of this State may communicate with a court in another state concerning a proceeding arising under this chapter.

(b) The court may allow the parties to participate in the communication. If the parties do not participate in the communication, they must be given the opportunity to present facts and legal arguments before a decision on jurisdiction is made.

(c) Communication between courts on schedules, calendars, court records and similar matters may occur without informing the parties. A record need not be made of the communication.

(d) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, a record must be made of a communication under this section. The parties must be informed promptly of the communication and granted access to the record.

(e) For the purposes of this section, "record" means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) In addition to other procedures available to a party, a party to a child custody proceeding may offer testimony of witnesses who are located in another state, including testimony of the parties and the child, by deposition or other means allowable in this State for testimony taken in another state. The court on its own motion may order that the testimony of a person be taken in another state and may prescribe the manner in which and the terms upon which the testimony is taken.

(b) A court of this State may permit an individual residing in another state to be deposed or to testify by telephone, audiovisual means or other electronic means before a designated court or at another location in that state. A court of this State shall cooperate with courts of other States in designating an appropriate location for the deposition or testimony.

(c) Documentary evidence transmitted from another state to a court of this State by technological means that do not produce an original writing may not be excluded from evidence on an objection based on the means of transmission.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;

(a) A court of this State may request the appropriate court of another state to:

(1) Hold an evidentiary hearing;

(2) Order a person to produce or give evidence pursuant to procedures of that state;

(3) Order that an evaluation be made with respect to the custody of a child involved in a pending proceeding;

(4) Forward to the court of this State a certified copy of the transcript of the record of the hearing, the evidence otherwise presented and any evaluation prepared in compliance with the request; and

(5) Order a party to a child custody proceeding or any person having physical custody of the child to appear in the proceeding with or without the child.

(b) Upon request of a court of another state, a court of this State may hold a hearing or enter an order described in subsection (a) of this section.

(c) Travel and other necessary and reasonable expenses incurred under subsections (a) and (b) of this section may be assessed against the parties according to the law of this State.

(d) A court of this State shall preserve the pleadings, findings, orders and decrees with respect to a child custody proceeding until the child attains 18 years of age. A record of any hearing and evidence admitted at any hearing shall be retained for 5 years. Upon appropriate request by a court or law enforcement official of another state, the court shall forward a certified copy of the records.

73 Del. Laws, c. 426, § 1.;