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Legal Information: Delaware

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of March 26, 2024

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?

Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.

  • 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. People 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. 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.

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

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

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 an order that was issued by the judge after a hearing (“non-consent order”) only if the party asking for the modification 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; 
    • you prove that there is other “good cause” 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 This means that your order will be good wherever you go.

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. §§ 2265; 2266
2 10 Del. C. § 1049B

If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?

According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:

  • the petition you file;
  • the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
  • the registration of an order in a different state.1

1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)