Delaware has devoted an entire court, to the resolution of domestic issues. Empowered by the General Assembly, the Family Court has jurisdiction over a wide variety of matters concerning families and children.
The types of cases seen in Family Court pertain to adult misdemeanor crimes against children, child abuse and neglect, child delinquency, dependency, paternity, custody, visitation, child support, alimony, annulments, divorce, property division, separation agreements, guardianship of minors and protective orders following domestic abuse. This court also has misdemeanor jurisdiction over any offenses committed between married or unmarried persons living as a domestic couple with or without a child in common.
Cases from Family Court are appealed at the Supreme Court level except for adult criminal cases which go to the Superior Court instead.
Seventeen judges sit on the bench of Family Court. The Chief Judge of Family Court has statewide administrative responsibilities and has offices in all three counties. Primarily, however, he works out of his main office in New Castle. The Governor of the state appoints the Chief Judge. Ten judges are assigned to Family Court in New Castle County, three in Kent County and three more in Sussex County. Each judge serves a 12-year term. To be eligible to sit on the Family Court, judges must be lawyers for at least five years before being appointed. They also must have a “knowledge of the law and interest in and understanding of family and child problems.” They are not allowed to practice law during the time of their tenure. Judges included; Family Court is made up of more than 300 employees.
During the final year calculated, Family Court resolved 47,469 cases. Adult filings totaled 4,704, and 38,487 were for civil claims, and the remaining 4,278 were for juvenile matters.