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Know the Laws: Delaware

UPDATED April 11, 2016

Order of Protection from Abuse

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An order of protection from abuse is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.  

Who can get an order of protection from abuse

back to topWho can file for an order of protection from abuse?

You can file a petition for yourself, your minor child, or on behalf of an adult who is impaired.*  To be eligible for an order of protection from abuse, an act of abuse must have been committed against you (or your minor child or the impaired adult) by:

  • a current or former spouse;
  • someone with whom you were "cohabitating" (living together as a couple, with or without a child in common);
  • your custodian; 
  • your child;
  • someone with whom you have or had a "substantive" dating relationship;
  • someone with whom you have a child in common, even if you don't live together;
  • someone you are related to by blood or marriage with whom you live (together in one household); or
  • someone you are related to in any of the following ways:
    • mother, father
    • mother-in-law, father-in-law
    • brother, sister
    • brother-in-law, sister-in-law
    • grandparent, grandchild
    • stepmother, stepfather
    • child, stepchild, daughter-in-law, son-in-law.**

This definition of relationships includes both blood relationships and relationships by adoption.  Also, it does not matter if a parent's parental rights were legally terminated.**  For example, if your mother's rights were terminated but she was abusing you, you could still file for an order of protection against her.

* 10 Del.C. § 1041(3)
** 10 Del.C. §§ 1041(2); 901(12)

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back to topCan I get an order of protection from abuse against a same-sex partner?

In Delaware, you may apply for an order of protection from abuse against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Who can get an order of protection from abuse?  You must also be the victim of an act of abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of abuse in Delaware?

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back to topCan I get an order of protection from abuse if I'm a minor?

Under Delaware law, a minor is a person under 18 years of age.  If you are a minor you can get an Order of Protection by having your parent, legal guardian or child protection services file for an order on your behalf.*

* 10 Del. C. §§ 1041(3)(b), 1043(a)

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back to topHow much does it cost? Do I need a lawyer?

Nothing. There is no filing fee to get an Order of Protection from Abuse.

Although you do not need a lawyer to file for an Order of Protection from Abuse, it may be to your advantage to seek legal counsel. This is especially important if your abuser has obtained a lawyer. Even if your abuser does not have a lawyer, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find information on legal assistance and domestic violence organizations on the DE Finding a Lawyer page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.  In addition, the domestic violence organizations in your area and/or court staff may be able to answer some of your questions or help you fill out the necessary court forms.  You will find contact information for courthouses on the DE Courthouse Locations page.

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the Delaware Family Courts for its help in putting together this material.

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