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Legal Information: Delaware

Delaware Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

An order of protection from abuse is a civil order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming another.

Orders of Protection from Abuse

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

Basic information

What is the legal definition of abuse in Delaware?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order of protection from abuse.  Delaware law defines "domestic violence" as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts of "abuse" between family or household members:

  • causing or attempting to cause actual physical injury or a sexual offense;
  • placing or attempting to place you in fear of physical injury or a sexual offense being committed against you or another person;
  • damaging, destroying, or taking property;
  • engaging in a course of alarming or distressing conduct that is likely to cause fear or emotional distress or cause a violent or disorderly response;
  • trespassing;
  • child abuse (as defined by law);
  • kidnapping;
  • unlawful imprisonment;
  • interference with custody; or
  • any other conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening or harmful.1  

1 10 Del. C. § 1041(1),(2) 

What types of orders of protection from abuse are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of order of protection from abuse:

Emergency (ex parte) order. If you are in immediate danger of abuse, you can ask for an emergency (ex parte) order when you apply for an order of protection.  Ex parte means that the order can be issued without prior notice to the abuser and without the abuser being present. The commissioner may ask you some questions to determine if you are in need of immediate protection. If you get the order, it will last until your full hearing, which is usually within 15 days.  The court can extend an ex parte order as needed, but not for more than 30 days.  Note: If the court does not grant you an emergency (ex parte) order, you may still be given a court date for a full hearing scheduled within the next 30 days.1

Order of protection from abuse. A long-term order of protection from abuse can be issued only after a court hearing where you and the abuser have the chance to both be present and present evidence to the judge.  Most of the protections will last for up to 1 year.  However, if the order includes a term that the abuser cannot commit acts of domestic violence against you and/or cannot contact or attempt to contact you, these can last for up to 2 years2 or longer (even permanently) if:

  1. the length of the order is necessary to prevent further acts of domestic violence; and
  2. the judge finds that aggravating circumstances exist. "Aggravating circumstances" include any of the following:
  • the abuser caused you physical injury or serious physical injury or s/he exposed any of your family or household members to such injuries;
  • the abuser used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument against you;
  • there is a history of repeated violations of prior protective orders by the abuser;
  • the abuser has been convicted of a crime against you in the past; or
  • the abuser committed any other acts of abuse that causes the judge to believe that there is an immediate and ongoing danger to you or any member of your family or household.3

You may also file to extend your order.4  For the order to be extended, there must be a hearing and certain factors must be met.  To read more about what you'd have to prove to get your order extended, go to How do I change, extend, or cancel my order of protection?

1 10 Del. C. §§ 1043, 1044(a)
2 10 Del C. § 1045(b)
3 10 Del C. § 1045(b),(f)
4 10 Del C. § 1045(c)

What protections can I get in an order of protection from abuse?

In an order of protection from abuse, a judge may order the abuser to:

  • stay away from you;
  • stay away from your residence, work place, school, day care (you may have to specifically request these places);
  • stop threatening or abusing you;
  • stop contacting you;
  • pay child support and spousal support;
  • pay certain other expenses;
  • surrender any and all firearms (Note: The judge can order the police to search for and take the respondent's firearms if you can describe: what type of gun s/he has; where it is located; and​ how s/he has used or threatened to use a gun against you or how you fear that s/he might);
    • attend counseling; and
    • not destroy, sell, or conceal joint property.1

    A judge may also grant you:

    • exclusive use of the home or of certain possessions, including the family car (regardless of who has title to the home or possessions);
    • temporary custody of children;
    • power to decide the conditions of child visitation by the abuser; and
    • any other relief that the judge believes are necessary in order for you to be free from the violence.1

    Whether a judge orders any or all of the above depends on the facts of your case.

    1 10 Del.C. § 1045

    Who can get an order of protection from abuse

    Who 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.1  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.2

    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.2  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.

    1 10 Del.C. § 1041(3)
    2 10 Del.C. §§ 1041(2); 901(12)

    Can 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?

    You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

    Can 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.1

    1 10 Del. C. §§ 1041(3)(b); 1043(a)

    How 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 Places that 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.

    If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

    Steps to get an order of protection from abuse

    Step 1: Go to court to file the petition.

    As soon as possible after the abuse occurs, go to the Family Court nearest to where you live. You can find contact information for courthouses on the DE Courthouse Locations page. You can also get the forms online at our DE Download Court Forms page.

    On the petition, you will be the "petitioner" and the abuser will be the "respondent." When writing about the incidents of violence, use descriptive language - words like "slapping," "hitting," "grabbing," "threatening," "choking," etc., - that fits your situation. Include details and dates, if possible. Be specific.

    You may also have to fill out an information sheet, but you are not required to provide your residence or phone number if it will put you in danger to reveal that information (you can ask that the information be kept confidential).1

    If you need assistance filling out the form, you can ask the clerk for help2 or a local domestic violence program may be able to help you.

    Note: Be sure to wait to sign the forms in front of the court clerk since your signature may have to be notarized. Remember to bring some form of identification (a driver's license or other identification that includes your picture) to show the clerk.

    1 10 Del.C. § 1042(b)
    2 10 Del.C. § 1042(d)

    Step 2: The ex parte hearing

    The commissioner will review your petition in order to decide if you will be granted an emergency (ex parte) order (if you asked for one). If you are granted an emergency (ex parte) order, the order is good until your full hearing, which usually takes place within 15 days (but could be extended and last for up to 30 days).1 If the court does not grant you an emergency (ex parte) order, you may still be given a court date for a full hearing scheduled within the next 30 days.2

    1 10 Del. Code § 1043(d)
    2 10 Del. Code § 1044(a)

    Step 3: Service of process

    The abuser must be "served," or given papers that tell him/her about the hearing date and your emergency (ex parte) order, if the court gave you one.

    Whether or not you are granted an emergency (ex parte) order, the clerk of court will prepare a summons. S/he will order that a copy of the summons and petition be served on the respondent named in the petition.

    The court will request law enforcement to serve the papers on the abuser. There is no charge to have the authorities serve the abuser. Do not try to serve the papers yourself.

    Step 4: The hearing

    A judge will set a hearing date, usually within 15 days of filing your petition (although it could be within 30 days if the ex parte order is extended because the respondent couldn't be served or for another reason).1 You must go to the hearing or your emergency (ex parte) order will expire and you will have to start the process over. At the hearing, you and the abuser will have a chance to present evidence, witnesses, etc., to prove your case. The judge has the power to question (examine) your child in private in order to verify the claims of either party. The judge can allow both parties' attorneys to be present and to question the child as well. The judge can allow an unrepresented party to give the judge a list of questions beforehand that the judge can use when examining the child. The judge will then report back to the parties what the child said.2

    It is often best to have a lawyer to represent you at the hearing who is familiar with orders of protection from abuse. If you show up to court and the abuser has a lawyer and you do not, you may ask the judge for a "continuance" to set a later court date so you can have time to find a lawyer for yourself. See DE Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals. If you are representing yourself, see the Preparing Your Case page for ways you can show the judge that you were abused.

    If the abuser has received notice of the hearing, but does not show up, the judge may continue with the hearing or may reschedule the hearing for a future date. If the judge reschedules the hearing, make sure to ask the clerk if you need to reissue or extend your emergency order (if you have one) so that you will continue to be protected you until the new hearing date.

    1 10 Del. C. § 1043(d)
    2 10 Del. C. § 1042(f)

    After the hearing

    Can the abuser have a gun?

    Once you get an order of protection from abuse, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

    • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Delaware have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
    • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
    • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

    You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

    What 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 Safety Tips. (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 Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.

    I 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.

    What 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.1

    1 10 Del. C. § 1046.

    How 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.1

    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.2 

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

    1 See the Delaware State Courts website
    2 10 Del. C. § 1045(c)

    What 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 .1 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.

    1 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2265 and 2266
    2 10 Del. C. § 1049B

    Moving to Another State with an Order of Protection from Abuse

    If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your order of protection can still be enforceable.

    General rules

    How do I know if my order of protection from abuse is good under federal law?

    A protection order is good anywhere in the United States 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.1
    • 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.2

    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.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
    2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

    Can I get my order of protection from abuse from Delaware enforced in another state?

    Yes. If you have a valid Delaware order of protection from abuse that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act, which is a federal law, states that all valid orders granted in the United States receive "full faith and credit" in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.  See How do I know if my order of protection from abuse is good under federal law? to find out if your order qualifies.

    Each state must enforce out-of-state protection orders in the same way it enforces its own orders, which means that if the abuser violates your out-of-state protection order, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by "full faith and credit."

    I have an emergency ex parte order.  Can it be enforced in another state?

    Yes. An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my order of protection from abuse is good under federal law?1

    Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to contact the state that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court). However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(b)(2)

    Getting your Delaware order of protection from abuse enforced in another state

    How do I get my order of protection from abuse order enforced in another state? 

    Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your order of protection from abuse enforced in another state.

    Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid order of protection from abuse is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1   Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our DE Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

    Note: It is important to keep a copy of your order of protection from abuse with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

    Do I need a special copy of my order of protection from abuse to get it enforced?

    In some states, you will need a certified copy of your order of protection from abuse. A certified copy says that it is a "true and correct" copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Delaware, a certified order has a stamp that says "Certified" and a seal.

    The copy you originally received was most likely not a certified copy. If your copy is not a certified copy, you should go to the Records department of the courthouse where your order of protection from abuse was granted. You must bring a photo ID. There is no fee if you are getting a certified copy. However, there may be a fee if a person, other than the victim, is trying to get the certified copy. (Note: Sometimes court clerks mistakenly charge a fee to victims, so make sure you are not accidently charged.)

    Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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.

    Can I get someone to help me?  Do I need a lawyer?

    You do not need a lawyer to get your protection order enforced in another state.

    However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your protection order, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

    To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to, please visit our DE Places that Help tab on the top of this page and select the state you are moving to.

    Do I need to tell the court in Delaware if I move?

    The Delaware Court does not require you to notify them if you move, but you should go by and get a certified copy of your order before you move.

    Enforcing custody provisions in another state

    I was granted temporary custody with my order of protection from abuse. Can I take my kids out of the state?

    Maybe. It may depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your order of protection from abuse. You may have to first seek the permission from a judge before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

    To read more about custody laws in Delaware, go to our Custody page.

    If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children. You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the DE area on our DE Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

    I was granted temporary custody with my order of protection from abuse. Will another state enforce this custody order?

    Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in a protection order can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

    1 18 USC § 2266

    Enforcing Your Out-of-State Order in Delaware

    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

    Can I get my out-of-state protection order enforced in Delaware? What are the requirements?

    If you have a protection order that was issued in another state or U.S. territory, it can be enforced in Delaware as long as it meets all of these requirements:

    • 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.1
    • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the power or 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.2

    If you have an order of protection that was issued in Canada, it can be enforced in Delaware as long as it orders the abuser to do one or more of the following:

    • stay away from you or a certain place (for example, your home, work, etc.)
    • not follow you
    • not .contact you, either directly or indirectly
    • not bother (molest), annoy, or harass you
    • not participate in threatening conduct directed at you.3

    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.

    1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
    2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)
    3 10 Del. Code §§ 1049H(1); 1049I; 1049J

    Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in Delaware?

    Generally, only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order.

    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 Restraining Orders 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.

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

    As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 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 our DE Finding a Lawyer page.

    1 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.

    Registering your out-of-state order in Delaware

    What 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.

    How do I register my out-of-state protection order in Delaware?

    To register a protection order that was issued in another state, a U.S. territory, or in Canada, 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.1 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 Advocates and Shelters page located on the Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

    1 10 Del. Code §§ 1049D; 1049K

    Do I have to register my out-of-state protection order in Delaware in order to get it enforced?

    You do not have to register a protection order that was issued in another state, a U.S. territory, or in Canada in order for it to be enforced.

    Delaware courts can enforce an out-of-state protection order as long as:

    • the order contains the your name and the abuser's name;
    • it appears to be currently valid (not expired);
    • the court that granted the order had the proper authority (jurisdiction) to issue it; and
    • 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.1

    Delaware law enforcement can enforce an out-of-state protection order as long as there is good reason ("probable cause") to believe that:

    • the protection order is a valid, current order; and
    • the order has been violated.2

    The order does not have to be entered into the state or federal registry in order to be enforced by a Delaware law enforcement officer.2

    1 10 Del. Code §§ 1049B(d)-(f); 1049J(c)​
    2 10 Del. Code §§ 1049C; ​1049I

    Will 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.1  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 Safety Tips 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 Advocates and Shelters page.

    1 18 USC § 2265(d)

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

    While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced,1 if your order is not entered into the state registry, it may be more difficult for a Delaware 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 Advocates and Shelters page located on the Places that Help tab on the top of this page.

    1 10 Del. Code §§ 1049D; 1049K

    Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

    There is no fee for registering your protection order from another state, a U.S. territory, or from Canada in Delaware.1

    1 10 Del. Code §§ 1046(b), (g); 1049K(g)