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Delaware child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Delaware child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Delaware child support determined?

The Delaware courts assume each parent has an equal duty to support any children, and they look at the following factors when awarding
child support:

  • financial resources of the child
  • standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage hadn’t ended
  • age and health of the parents
  • each parent's monthly net income
  • age and health of the child
  • the needs of the child and the primary support obligation of each child
  • the relative financial means of the parents
  • the number of dependents each parent supports
  • the absolute minimum amount of income each parent must obtain to function at maximum productivity

The Delaware courts have created official child support guidelines designed to be in the best interests of the child. These guidelines are followed unless the parents have come to a child support agreement the courts find is fair and reasonable.

At what age does child support payments end?

If there is an unmarried child that's reached 18, is a full-time high school student and lives with one of the parents, the parents will maintain their respective support if the child needs it, until the child completes the twelfth grade or reaches 19 years of age, whichever comes first.

Delaware's custody guidelines:

Yes. Legal custody and residential arrangements are based upon the best interest of the child. A decision will be made based on the following factors:

  • the wishes of the child and the wishes of the parents
  • the child’s adjustment to school, home and community settings
  • the mental and physical health of all involved
  • the relationship of the child with all family members
  • the compliance by both parents with the duties of supporting the child
  • any evidence of domestic violence

In any case involving minor children, the court does not prefer one gender over the other when determining custody.

Delaware's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent’s employment, he or she may be required to cover their child on it.

If the non-custodial parent fails to pay any deductible or fails to pay the required portion of uncovered medical expenses, the IV-D agency may withhold the necessary amount from the obligor's income. The amount of the deductible or the additional medical expenses will be added to the child support obligation.

How permanent are the provisions for Delaware child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Delaware, like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. Once the support is withheld, it is sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While it is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

There is a presumption that a perpetrator of domestic violence will not be awarded joint or sole custody of the child.

How Delaware determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the
nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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