Legal Information: Delaware

Custody

Updated: 
April 12, 2017

Who can get custody or visitation? Can relatives or other adults get visitation?

Generally, at least one of the child’s parents is entitled to custody and/or visitation.  Both parents have the right to request visitation, and judges try to grant this, unless it would harm the child's physical health or emotional development.*

If a judge determines that the child is neglected, or if it is in the child's best interest, then s/he may grant guardianship to another person or to the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families.*1

In addition, a non-parent, usually a relative of the child, can ask to be appointed as a legal guardian and can seek custody as well if the child is being neglected.*1  Even if a guardian is appointed, the parents still have the right to have contact with the child and also have financial responsibility for the child.*2  The Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families can also seek full custody if the child is being abused and is in danger.*3

Also, any other adult can request visitation so long as s/he meets the following requirements:

  • s/he has a substantial and positive prior relationship with the child; or
  • s/he is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or adult sibling of the child.*4

Through a guardian ad litem, children can also request visitation with a sibling (including half-siblings) or with other adults.  To get visitation with an adult, the following must apply:

  • The adult consents to visitation with the child and;
  • The adult:
    • Has a substantial and positive prior relationship with the child; or
    • Is a grandparent, aunt, uncle or adult sibling of the child.*4

A judge will decide all of this based on what s/he thinks is in the best interests of the child.

* 13 Del. C. § 728
*1 13 Del. C. § 2330
*2 13 Del. C. § 2331
*3 13 Del. C. § 2512
*4 13 Del. C. § 2410