November has been declared National Adoption Month with November 18th designated specifically as National Adoption Day. The designation of National Adoption Month and National Adoption Day serve to raise awareness about the thousands of children in foster care across the country who await permanent, loving homes and families. This year’s National Adoption Month theme is “In Their Own Words: Lifting Up Youth Voices.” Adoption Month is significant locally as well. According to the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, on any given day there are approximately 50 children in Delaware waiting for an adoptive family. For more information on foster children in Delaware who are available for adoption please visit Delaware’s Heart Gallery.
During October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recent posts on Family Matters have explored aspects protection from abuse orders in Pennsylvania. Like Pennsylvania, Delaware can issue civil protection from abuse orders (“PFA”).
For those unfamiliar with the process in Delaware, a PFA is a civil order issued by the Family Court. PFA Orders are designed to prevent one person from committing acts of abuse against another. Acts of abuse include, but are not limited to, physical abuse, placing someone in fear of physical harm, intentionally or recklessly damaging property and any other conduct that a reasonable person under the circumstances would find threatening or harmful.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence can affect anybody. It knows no race, gender, sexual orientation, or socio-economic class. It is starting to finally be recognized as a public problem instead of private one.
Two years ago the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission issued a report on a Staff Study of the Protection From Abuse Orders in Pennsylvania, which highlighted the weaknesses of the current Protection From Abuse (“PFA”) system. The report starts with quotes from news articles about domestic and dating violence. The report quotes Police Commissioner Joseph Bail speaking about a domestic incident in Chester, PA as saying “PFAs are only a piece of paper. How do you protect a woman with a piece of paper? The Legislature needs to put some teeth in the law.”
Recently Daniel Craig was ridiculed for carrying his weeks-old infant daughter in a papoose tied around his neck. The negative comments, brought about by British Today star Piers Morgan, included the sentiment that by taking this action, Mr. Craig had been “emasculated.” Perhaps Mr. Morgan believes the “tender years doctrine” still has a place in today’s society?
Many families are built or extended through adoption. Most people are familiar with the purpose and nature of adoption – the creation of a permanent parent/child relationship between a child and the adopting parents. When a child is adopted he or she is thereafter considered the child of the adopting parents and is entitled to the same rights and privileges as if he or she were born to the adopting parents. This includes the right to inherit by or through the adoptive parents. Most people think of this process or are familiar with adoption as it relates to infants or children.
Earlier this year Delaware enacted House Bill 337 regarding child marriage. Previously, Delaware law allowed minors to marry if a Judge of the Family Court signed an order allowing the minor to marry. In rendering a decision the Judge was required to consider the best interest of the minor, the wishes of the minor and the minor’s parents/guardians, the mental and physical health of the individuals to be married, the criminal history of the individuals to be married, and whether the proposed marriage would violate any Delaware laws. According to an article published by NPR, more than 200 minors got married between 2000 and 2017. House Bill 337, was signed into law earlier this year, making Delaware (already known as the First State) the first state in the United States to ban child marriage without exception.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.
Leslie Spoltore focuses her practice on family law, handling all aspects of the Delaware Family Court’s jurisdiction including, divorce, alimony, property distribution, prenuptial agreements, adoption, guardianship, permanent guardianship, child support, child custody, protection from abuse. She works out of the firm’s Wilmington, DE office and can be reached at 302-840-1110 or at Leslie.Spoltore@Obermayer.com
In addition to dividing assets and debts, Delaware Family Court has the authority to divide marital personal property such as furniture, dishes, candlesticks and televisions. If the parties cannot agree on the division of this type of property the Delaware Family Court does not typically hear evidence at trial over which party should receive the living room furniture or the big screen television. Rather, the Court utilizes what it calls the “two-list method.” Continue Reading
Dealing with infertility and assisted reproductive technology is overwhelming. Learning the acronyms (IUI, ART, IVF, ICSI) alone can seem daunting. Then there is the anxiety and fear that come along with the regular testing and attempted cycles. There is the emotion that accompanies the desire for a child. The women start to feel like they are a living science experiment and the men can feel powerless. Yet as intended parents trudge through the medical and laboratory bureaucracy, few think about the legal implications of the medical process. Continue Reading
The marital home is oftentimes a family’s greatest asset and therefore the division/sale of the marital home may become quite contentious. With that being said, there are only a few possible outcomes when discussing the sale/buyout of the marital home as follows: Continue Reading
There is no question that pets can be – and often are – beloved members of the family. Much as we love them, it probably doesn’t surprise anyone to know that in many jurisdictions pets are considered personal property in a divorce. Delaware is one of those jurisdictions. As a prior post explained, the Delaware Family Court favors the dividing personal property by the two-list method. Does that include pets? Continue Reading