Legal Information: Delaware

Custody

Updated: 
October 26, 2018

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.1

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.2

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.2 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.3 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.4

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.5

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.5

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

1 13 Del. C. § 728
2 13 Del. C. § 2330
3 13 Del. C. § 2331
4 13 Del. C. § 2512
5 13 Del. C. § 2410