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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.  

After the hearing

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

  • Make several copies of the protective order as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Inform your employer, domestic violence advocate, minister, clergy, family members, and/or your closest friends that you have a protective order in effect.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children's school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • If the court has not given you an extra copy for your local law enforcement agency, take one of your extra copies and deliver it to them.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including changing your locks and your phone number.

Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. Women can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school. Many batterers obey protective orders, but some do no. It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.

Click on the following link for suggestions on Staying Safe. (You can access the safety planning information any time from the WomensLaw.org Home page.) In addition, advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the DE State and Local Programs page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

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back to topI was not granted an order of protection from abuse. What are my options?

Orders entered by a Commissioner may be appealed to a Judge of the Family Court by filing a form called an "Appeal from a Commissioner's Order". Appeals from Commissioner's orders must be filed with the Family Court within ten (10) days of the order.

Orders entered by a Judge may be appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court. A "Notice of Appeal" form must be filed within thirty (30) days of the Family Court Judge's Order.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

It is important to recognize the limitations of an Order of Protection from Abuse. You must be vigilant in enforcing the order's provisions by reporting every violation to the police or the court.

Call the police, even if you think it is a minor violation. It is a crime and contempt of court if the abuser knowingly violates the order in any way. A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court. Violation of the order is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,300. In addition, the police should arrest him for violation of the order. If convicted, the abuser may be fined or sent to jail.

It is a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.*

* 10 Del. C. § 1046.

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back to topHow do I change, extend, or cancel my order of protection?

Changing / canceling an order
Either you or the respondent may apply to the family court to have an order of protection from abuse changed by filling out a court form requesting the modification. You can get the form from the clerk's office.

The court can modify a non-consent order (an order that was issued by the judge after a hearing) only if the party asking for the modification (you or the abuser) proves that there is a good reason for the change. The court can modify a consent order if both parties agree.*

Extending an order
You can file a motion to extend your order before your original order expires and a hearing date will be set for both you and the abuser to appear in court.  The order can be extended for a time period determined by the judge.  However, for the judge to extend your order, one of the following must happen at the hearing:

  • the judge determines that:
    • domestic violence has occurred since you got the original order;
    • a violation of the order has occurred; or
    • you prove that there is other "good cause" (a good reason) to extend the order; or
  • the respondent consents to the extension of the order.** 

You can find some of the forms you need through the DE Download Court Forms page on this website.

* See the Delaware State Courts website
** 10 Del. C. § 1045(c)

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back to topWhat happens if I move?

Your Order of Protection from Abuse is good no matter where you go in your state. In addition, it can be enforced even if you move to another state. If you move, your order must be given full faith and credit in any other state, territorial or tribal court .* That means that your order will be good wherever you go.

Some states require that you register your order with them before it is effective. If you move, call the clerk of court in your new area. Tell the clerk that you have an Order of Protection from Abuse from Delaware, and ask if you need to register it with them.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protection order (MPO) off the military installation or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2265 and 2266
** 10 Del. C. § 1049B

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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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