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Mission & Jurisdiction of the Family Court


Mission

The mission of the Family Court is to provide equal access to justice for the families and children under our Court's jurisdiction in a manner that is fair and efficient and that maintains the public's trust and confidence in an independent and accountable judiciary.


Jurisdiction

The General Assembly empowered the Family Court to exercise jurisdiction over juvenile delinquency, child neglect, dependency, child abuse, adult misdemeanor crimes against juveniles, child and spouse support, paternity of children, custody and visitation of children, adoptions, terminations of parental rights, divorces and annulments, property divisions, specific enforcement of separation agreements, guardianship over minors, imperiling the family relationship, orders of protection from abuse and intra-family misdemeanor crimes. Family Court also has misdemeanor jurisdiction over offenses committed between former spouses, persons cohabitating together holding themselves out as a couple, and persons living separate and apart with a child in common. The Family Court does not have jurisdiction over adults charged with felonies or juveniles charged with first and second degree murder, rape, or kidnapping. Cases are appealed to the Supreme Court with the exception of adult criminal cases which are appealed to the Superior Court.

The Family Court bench is comprised of seventeen judges. The Chief Judge has statewide administrative responsibilities. The Chief Judge has offices in all three counties, but his principal office is located in New Castle County. Ten Judges are assigned to New Castle County, three Judges are assigned to Kent County and three Judges are assigned to Sussex County.