Child Custody

Delaware Child Custody Attorneys

Tom Gay expert at family law

One of the most difficult aspects of a Divorce or co-parenting is devising a child custody agreement. First, it may be difficult to ensure that the agreement suits the child as well as both parents. Second, it is important to create the agreement so the child spends time with both parents. Third, due to financial issues, work schedules, and other issues, it can be challenging to create a suitable custody agreement. It is best to have the help of a skilled Delaware Family Law Attorney.

Contact Tom Gay in the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay in Georgetown, Delaware to discuss your rights, your interests, and how to protect them. Dial (302) 855-9300 for a family law consultation. If you are in the Kent County or Dover, Delaware area please dial (302) 697-2499 today.

However, another challenge is modifying an existing custody order. Delaware custody laws allow modifications to be made to existing consent orders and custody orders under certain circumstances and parameters.

There is a legal process involved that must be adhered to in order for the courts to grant the modification. If you would like you to modify your existing custody order, enlist an experienced Delaware child custody attorney.

Delaware Custody Law

Per Delaware’s legal system regarding family law, there are various stages of custody law. We handle each stage separately. Delaware residents enduring a divorce may have to face up to four different hearings for each issue regarding your case.

Common Delaware Family Law issues are

  • child support,
  • child custody & visitation,
  • the division of property/assets,
  • and spousal support (alimony).

Making sure this sometimes complicated family and custody law system continues to move forward is one of our primary priorities as your custody lawyer in Dover, DE. Here at the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay, our family law attorneys will make sure that your needs are our number 1 priority.

Shared Custody Guidelines in Delaware

Shared CustodyTo ensure that both parents have quality parenting time and visiting time with their children, the state of Delaware aims to provide both parents with equal custody of the child whenever possible. After recognizing a time disparity in previous custody guidelines, the Family Court of Delaware adjusted its child custody guidelines to establish fairer time-sharing arrangements. 

The stated goal is for each parent to have as much time with the child as possible. The guidelines assume that each parent is a competent and effective parent and that the child is safe with each parent. The Court, through either mediation or Court Order, is free to establish a child custody arrangement tailored to the specific needs of a given family. If the Court determines that the guidelines are inappropriate, it is free to deviate from them.

Although the guidelines have some disadvantages and are inappropriate in some situations, they do a lot to promote better relationships through better contact. More contact allows children to establish better relationships with each parent. More contact also allows a child to feel more comfortable with each parent and home.

This, in turn, often encourages parents to work together as it requires more co-parenting than the old guidelines did. With more contact and better shared-parenting, parents won’t feel the need to “reprogram” the child upon his or her return from the other parent’s house. The child will be able to live more naturally, despite the fact they are transferring from one parent to another more frequently than before.

Shared Custody Guidelines By Child’s Age

The custody guidelines do consider the age of the child in addition to the desire for each parent to have as much time as possible with the child. Therefore, it seeks to move to a shared schedule thatt transitions gradually based on the child’s age.

The presumptive agreement for Contact Guidelines for custody of children in Delaware depends on the age of the child.

  • Shared custody by ageFrom Birth to 18 months, the starting point is that one parent would have primary placement and the other parent would have visitation every other weekend and two weeknights per week for a minimum of three hours. In addition, the parent seeking visitation would be entitled to two non-consecutive weeks of vacation visitation.
  • From 18 Months to Five years, the parent seeking visitation would have every other weekend as well as two overnights per week. They would also get two non-consecutive weeks of vacation visitation.
  • From 5 years and up, the presumptive custody arrangement states that parents should share custody equally. Shared custody could include alternating weeks or some other visitation arrangement as agreed upon by the family. Summer visitation should alternate every other week as well.
  • Both parents are equally responsible for transportation.

Delaware Child Custody Modification Laws

According to Delaware law, a child custody order can only be modified in certain situations.

First, original custody orders known as consent orders (both parents agreed to the custody arrangement) can be modified at any time. However, the court must find that the change is in the “best interest” of the child.

Second, if the original custody order was entered by the Court after a full hearing AND it has been less than two years since it was entered, the order can be changed ONLY IF the Court finds that continuing to enforce the order would endanger the child’s physical health OR significantly impair the child’s emotional development.   

Modifying a Delaware custody order is a complex legal task. If you need help modifying a Delaware child custody order, you need an experienced custody attorney. Ensure that you modify your custody order correctly with the help of Delaware’s best Family Lawyer, Tom Gay.

Facts about Delaware Child Custody Laws

There are many things that you may not know about child custody laws in Delaware. To avoid falling victim to misinformation or misleading facts, always consult a lawyer regarding custody of your child. Contact the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay to discuss the custody arrangement you have with your child. 

  1. Each parent is a joint custodian of their children.
  2. Either parent or both parents may file a petition in Family Court asking the court to award them custody of the child.
  3. Under the Delaware law, the non-custodial parent is allowed to request information about the child.
  4. Both of the parents have the right to speak to the child by phone or mail.
  5. Each court order shall contain a contact (visitation) schedule with the non-custodial or non-residential parent.
  6. When a parent files a petition for custody in Family Court, a preliminary injunction is served immediately on the parent that filled out the petition.
  7. After a petition for custody is filed, the respondent in the petition must be personally served with a summons. The summons will include a copy of the petition.
  8. When positive service has been returned to the court, the case is normally referred to mediation.
  9. If there have been findings of any domestic violence, there will not be a mediation hearing. Additionally, there will not be a mediation hearing if a no-contact order is currently in effect. However, the exception will be cases when the victim’s attorney requests a mediation hearing and is present.
  10. If the mediation is bypassed, the petition will then be in the hands of the judge for a hearing.

Delaware Divorce Process

Tom Gay expert at custody law

Divorce can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Either way, calling the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay is the best way for you to get through all of the court hearings smoothly. We are experts in the process so that you don’t have to be. Delaware divorce law mandates that couples live legally separated for six months prior to granting a divorce. Hearings handled individually in Delaware:

  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Property division
  • Marital assets
  • Spousal support

A skilled and experienced Delaware Divorce Lawyer who has a plethora of experience dealing with these complex divorce proceedings is very beneficial to you. Helping you to obtain your goals while preserving your rights and interests is our primary concern at the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay located in Georgetown, Delaware. Dial (302) 855-9300 to speak with an attorney today.

Issues Regarding Property Division and Spousal Support

Knowing how and when to petition the court on questions of property division is imperative in a Delaware family law case. Failing to petition could make you vulnerable to overlook valuable rights.

We are aware of how emotionally charged people can be when it comes to money and spousal support. Disputes over alimony frequently become the most heated parts of a Delaware divorce. It is our job at the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay to make sure you are obtaining your goals and preserving your rights and interests.

Once retained we will stay laser-focused on what we are confident the judge will grant you if the case goes all the way to trial. From there we will steer the negotiation toward a settlement that is at least that good or better for you.

We firmly believe that the deal you negotiate is often better for you because it is within your own control while saving you emotional discomfort, psychological pain, and money in the end.

Child Custody and Child Support Issues

In many cases, Delaware law requires parents to enter into mediation on questions regarding child support issues prior to the case going before a judge. Having a lawyer who knows how to effectively negotiate for you in mediation is very advantageous. Leaving the future of your child up to a judge may not be in your best interest.

At the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay, we possess the necessary skills and knowledge of Delaware divorce law and experience to help you through all stages of your family law and child custody case in Georgetown, DE.

Parents typically have minimal desire to drag their children through long, painful and tedious Delaware divorce proceedings. As your attorney, we focus on preserving your parental rights when it comes to cases surrounding child visitation. We simultaneously attempt to expedite resolution so that you, and your child, can move on.

Child custody guidelines in Delaware promote settlement over litigation. When both parents know that the Court prefers a shared arrangement, parents will be less inclined to fight to be the primary placement parent. Shared custody agreements reduce the fear of losing contact with their child. The new guidelines put both parents on a more equal footing, reducing the need to posture and make accusations in order to gain an advantage in a child custody hearing. Learn more about shared custody above. 

Other Legal Issues Confronting Families

The traditional Delaware family no longer involves a father and a mother. Families frequently involve single parents or grandparents with guardianship rights. Whether you are pursuing third-party visitation, grandparents’ rights or other non-traditional guardianship, we will be by your side. Throughout the entire legal process, we will fight for your rights and protect your involvement in the child’s life. 

What is a Custody Mediation Meeting?

family law

At a mediation meeting, there will be a mediator assisting the parents to come to an agreement. They will also help with defining the issues which the parents cannot agree upon. The mediator will inform both parties of the language and content of the contact guidelines used by the court.

If the parents are able to come to an agreement with each other, they will sign a consent order. The consent order will outline the terms that they have agreed upon.

However, if the parents do not come to an agreement on the petition, the mediator will recommend a contact schedule until the court hearing. The parents must agree to a temporary contact schedule with the child to complete mediation.

In cases when mediation is unsuccessful, the petitioning parent will then have to complete a parenting education course. The petition will be assigned to a judge for a full hearing at a later date.

Contact A Sussex County Delaware Child Custody Lawyer

If you need to make changes to your existing child custody agreement, call Delaware’s best child custody attorney, Tom Gay. Contact the Law Offices of Murray, Phillips & Gay to discuss your Delaware child custody case. Dial (302) 855-9300

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