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Family Law

Newark Delaware Family Law Lawyers

Family law is the term applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships. Family law rules define not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, family law reflects the values society shares regarding how people who are related should treat each other.

When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of a family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter.

Typically, family law attorneys assist people in making and breaking family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child custody, and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the area of adoption.

Delaware’s Family Court system involves each stage of a case being handled separately. Parties enduring a divorce in Delaware could face up to seven of more court hearings from start to finish.  Common Delaware Family Law issues include the legal divorce itself, division of property (assets and debts), spousal support and/or alimony, custody, visitation, child support and protection from abuse.  Making sure this sometimes complicated family law system continues to move forward is one of my primary priorities as your family law lawyer.


Marriage is a legal and business union as much as it is a romantic one.

Because marriage is a legal and business arrangement, it may be wise to consult with an attorney about the advantages of premarital or prenuptial agreements.

Many couples find it helpful to work through financial issues and the potential disagreements such issues can create before entering into a marriage.


Divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract between two individuals. From a legal standpoint, divorce restores an individual’s right to marry someone else. The process also legally divides marital assets and debts and determines the care and custody of the children. Each state addresses these issues differently. However, most states follow the same basic principles and use relatively uniform standards.

In some states you need to prove fault, commonly referred to as grounds, to obtain a divorce. However, the majority of states allow at least one form of no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. If no-fault grounds for divorce are available in your state, either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce. In some states both fault and no-fault divorce are available.

In most divorces, the primary issues to be decided are alimony or spousal support, property division, and, if there are children, child custody, visitation, and child support. When spouses agree on how to resolve these issues, they can usually obtain a divorce quickly. However, in many cases, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children. Property division and alimony are often hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings, but the early advice of a family law attorney may be able to impact the ultimate result favorably.

Delaware Divorce Process

Except in cases involving misconduct by one spouse, Delaware mandates that couples be legally separated for six months before a divorce can be granted. Hearings on matters of child support, child custody/visitation, division of property (assets and debts), alimony/spousal support, and protection from abuse are all handled separately in Delaware.  And the outcome of one could have an impact on the others.  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 is a major concern at The Law Office of Michael S. Corrigan.

Child Custody and Visitation

The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents. Custody must address both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody typically involves allocating parental rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of the children. Legal custody typically involves allocating the legal rights and responsibilities associated with the child’s upbringing.

Sometimes the parents agree to an arrangement; sometimes the court determines one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave fathers visitation rights. Today, the courts have begun to realize that sometimes it is in the best interests of the children to reside with the father and reverse the roles of the parents. In general, the courts favor joint ongoing child rearing responsibilities with the children residing where it is most practical and where they will flourish. The advice and assistance of a family law attorney can help parents to establish child custody and visitation agreements that focus on the interests of the children.

Child Support

Parents must financially support their children. That obligation usually lasts until the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 or 21 years old depending on state law) or becomes self-supporting. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce, and either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. In most states, an unmarried mother may also file a petition for child support in family court, and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.

A parent who fails to remain current on his or her child support obligations faces significant penalties. Every state has a child support enforcement office that works with the family court to suspend professional or business licenses, take away driver and recreational licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance, or place non-paying parents in jail when child support obligations are overdue.

Because of the state specific requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of a family law attorney at our firm when child support issues arise.

Child Custody and Child Support Issues In Delaware

Delaware Law requires parents to engage in a mediation process regarding the issues of child support and child custody prior to their case going before a commissioner or a judge for trial.  Having a lawyer who knows how to effectively negotiate for you in mediation is very advantageous. Leaving decisions about your future with your child up to the final word of a commissioner or judge may not be in your best interest. At the Newark, Delaware Family Law Office of Michael S. Corrigan I have the necessary skills and knowledge of Delaware Divorce Law as well as the experience to help you through all stages of your family law case.

Parents typically have minimal desire to drag their children through long, painful and tedious Delaware divorce proceedings. When it comes to cases surrounding child support, custody, and visitation, as your attorney I am focused on preserving your parental rights while simultaneously attempting to expedite resolution so that you, and your child, can move on.


Every adoption, whether foreign or domestic, requires the action and approval of a court to become final, and each state has its own adoption policies and procedures. Most states have measures in place to assess the fitness of the adopting parents. Adopted children generally receive all the benefits afforded to natural children, and parents owe adopted children the same legal duties of care and support owed to a natural or birth child of the marriage.

Each state has its own policies and procedures controlling child adoption. Most states have measures in place to assess the fitness of the adopting parents. Upon adoption, adopted children generally receive all the benefits afforded to natural children and parents owe adopted children all the legal duties of care and support owed to a natural or birth child of the marriage.

A family law attorney at our firm who offers adoption-related services can help both adoptive and birth parents throughout all phases of the adoption process.

Property Division, Alimony Payments & 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 when appropriate could make you vulnerable and could cause you to lose rights you may not be aware of.

I understand how emotionally charged people can be when it comes to money. Conflicts over alimony frequently become the most heated parts of a Delaware divorce.

As your lawyer I will I stay focused on what I am confident the judge will grant you if the case goes all the way to trial. From there I will steer the negotiation toward a settlement that is at least that good, or better, for you. I believe that a deal you can negotiate is often better than going to trial because it is within your own control, while it also saves you emotional/psychological pain and money in the end.

Other Legal Issues Confronting Families

The traditional Delaware family no longer involves one man and one woman. Families frequently involve single parents, grandparents or other third persons with guardianship rights. Whether your case involves pursuing third party visitation or grandparents rights I will guide you through the entire legal process.

Family relations create a host of legal consequences.

Whether you are contemplating marriage or divorce or are considering adoption, a family law attorney at our firm can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation and help you to make the best choices for you and your family.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Frequently Asked Questions about Family Law

Q: What is the legal definition of marriage?

A: Most states define marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman to become husband and wife. The standard way to marry is to get a marriage license from a state-authorized official and participate in a formal civil or religious wedding ceremony. As of June 6, 2007, Massachusetts is the only state that issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Q: What are the legal effects of marriage?

A: There are several federal and state laws that benefit married couples. Some examples include the right to file joint income tax returns, create a family limited partnership (FLP) under federal tax laws, create a marital life estate trust, receive survivor benefits, receive a share of your deceased spouse’s estate under intestate succession laws, and claim the estate tax marital deduction.

Contact A Delaware Family Law Attorney

I have the skills needed to resolve your Delaware family law legal issues. Let me put my negotiation and litigation experience to work for you. Email Delaware Family Law Attorney Michael S. Corrigan here for dedicated divorce or family law representation in New Castle County, Delaware and Kent County, Delaware. I can be reached at 302-455-1212. I proudly serve those with family law needs throughout the following Delaware towns: Wilmington, Brandywine, Greenville, New Castle, Newark, Christiana, Pike Creek, Hockessin, Bear, Glasgow, Middletown, Smyrna and Dover.