Custody Questions and Answers

What is the meaning of custody?

According to Delaware law, the parent who has custody of his or her child decides where the child will live, what school the child will attend, what doctors the child will see, and what religion the child will follow.

If parents have joint custody, the custody order will state with which parent the child will live.  The parents must talk and make joint decisions on the child's school, religion, and doctors.

If I have legal custody, can the other parent take my child?

We hope that all parents will follow Court orders.  If a parent keeps a child longer than the Court order allows, you have the right to come to the Court to have your order enforced.

If I have custody, will the other parent still have visitation?

Yes, unless the parents agree that one parent will not have visitation or unless a Judge, after a Court hearing, decides that visitation would be harmful to the child.  According to Delaware law, the child should have frequent contact with the other parent, in person, by mail, and by telephone.

If I have custody, must I tell the other parent when my child has school programs, doctors appointments, etc.? Must I tell the other parent about report cards?

Yes. According to Delaware law, whether one parent has legal custody or parents have joint custody, each parent has the right to receive information about the child's schooling, medical treatment, and any activity in which the child participates.  This information should be given as soon as they find out about it, so the other parent can attend.  This includes things like doctor's appointments, school programs, Little League games, and religious events.

If I have custody, will the other parent have to pay support?

Yes, unless the Court after a hearing finds that the other parent is unable to pay support.  This does not happen often.

If I have custody, can I move from this state with my child?

If a parent is going to move from this state with the child, that parent must tell the other parent as soon as he or she knows they are moving.  If the moving parent does not tell the other parent, he or she may be considered to be interfering with the other parent's right to visitation and contact with the child.  If that happens, the Court may order extra visitation or temporary custody to the other parent.  In addition, the moving parent may be ordered to pay Court costs, attorney's fees, and a fine.

Parents may agree between themselves to change custody or visitation, or either parent may petition the Court to change custody or visitation because of the move. When a proposed relocation meets the criteria of Section 734 of Title 13 and a party seeks an order from the Court, the Court must consider Section 734’s relocation factors in addition to the best interest factors.