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Know the Laws: Delaware

UPDATED April 12, 2017

Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Delaware

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If you are planning to move to Delaware or are going to be in Delaware for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Delaware

back to topCan I get my protection order enforced in Delaware? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your out-of-state protection order can be enforced in Delaware as long as:

  •  It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you.*
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case.)
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.**

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective 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. § 2266(5)
** 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

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back to topCan I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in DE?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Delaware.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. You may be able to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. Find out if this is possible in your state by calling the clerk of the court that issued your order. To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the "How to Get a Restraining Order" page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Delaware, you may be able to get a new one issued in Delaware but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Delaware. To find out more information on how to get a protective order in Delaware, visit our Orders of Protection from Abuse page.

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back to topI was granted temporary custody with my out-of-state protection order.  Will I still have temporary custody of my children in DE?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,* Delaware can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit the DE Finding a Lawyer page under the Where to Find Help tab at the top of this page.

* The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

 

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Registering your out-of-state order in Delaware

back to topWhat is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

Before moving to Delware, the state that issued your protection order may already have entered your order into the NCIC. If not, your order may be entered into the NCIC once your order is registered in DE.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

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back to topHow do I register my protection order in Delaware?

To register your protection order, bring a certified copy of your order and a letter requesting the order be registered to your local Family Court. You may be asked to file an affidavit that says that to the best of your knowledge, the order has not expired. There is no fee for registration.*  To find you local Family Court, see our DE Courthouse Locations page.

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Delaware for assistance. You can find contact information for organizations in your area here on our DE State and Local Programs page located on the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

* 10 Del. Code § 1049D

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back to topDo I have to register my protection order in Delaware in order to get it enforced?

No.  Delaware state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as:

  • The order contains the your name and your abusers name
  • It appears current
  • The court that granted the order had the proper authority (jurisdiction). In other words, you must have lived in the area the court governs, or had some contact with that area, and the court must be the court that issues protection orders for that area.*

It does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a DE law enforcement officer.** 

* 10 Del. Code § 1049B(d)-(f)
** 10 Del. Code § 1049C

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back to topWill the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.*  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Staying Safe page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our DE State and Local Programs page.

* 18 USC § 2265(d)

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back to topWhat if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe. While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not entered into the state registry, it may be more difficult for an DE law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real.*  Meaning, it could take longer to get your order enforced.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Delaware. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in DE, please visit our DE State and Local Programs page located on the Where to Find Help tab on the top of this page.

* 10 Del. Code § 1049D

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back to topDoes it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in Delaware.*

* 10 Del. Code § 1046(b),(g)

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