Whenever a married couple with minor children from the marriage divorces, custody and visitation become an issue. From the very beginning, the Delaware Family Court makes it clear that the best interests of the children are of utmost importance. For instance, the court requires that both parents sign an Affidavit of Children’s Rights. The affidavit outlines several rights, including the right to a continuing relationship with both parents, regular consistent contact with both parents, and the ability to express love for one parent without fear of disapproval from the other. It also includes the right not to be a source of argument between the parents and the right not to be placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other. If both parents truly acknowledge and protect these rights, this would resolve many disputes regarding custody and visitation. To further assist the parents in coping with the divorce, the court requires that they complete a parenting class. To ensure this is completed, the court will not finalize the divorce until the petitioner files a Certificate of Completion with the court. If the respondent fails to submit a Certificate of Completion, the court may consider this when determining custody.
It is best if the parties can reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation, and they may outline the terms in a separation agreement and file it with the court. Upon acceptance by the court, it becomes an enforceable order of the court. However, if the parents are unable to agree on custody and/or visitation, a separate petition for custody must be filed. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement prior to a custody or visitation hearing, then the court will determine these issues based upon what the court feels is in the best interest of the children.
Article provided by guest blogger Renee Duval, Esq. of The Castro Firm