DELAWARE FAMILY LAW
WhitbeckBennett represents clients in Delaware from its Wilmington office. We represent in divorce, custody, support, and all other aspects of Family Law. Kathryn Laffey, a partner at our DE office, was one of the first attorneys mediating divorce and custody matters in the State of Delaware since receiving training in 1992 and is the Director of Family Mediation Services, an alternative to the adversarial divorce court system.
We represent clients with Family and Divorce Mediation, Divorce and Property Division, Child Custody/Support, Guardianship, Adoption, Alimony, and Spousal Support, and protection from abuse.
Family and Divorce Mediation
Kathryn Laffey, partner at our Wilmington office, is a trained and experienced Divorce and Family attorney-mediator who helps couples going through the legal divorce process resolve their divorce and related financial issues, and/or establishing parenting agreements and schedules. Couples are provided with information about the Family Court process, forms, and procedures, and Ms. Laffey provides a final Mediation Agreement that can be submitted to the Court without expensive, contentious, and lengthy legal proceedings. Kathryn also serves as a Family Court approved Arbitrator and Parenting Coordinator who can promptly and expeditiously resolve divorce ancillary (property division and alimony) or parenting/custody disputes as an alternative to the Family Court process.
Divorce and Property Division
We recognize that the legal dissolution of marriage is very personal and often brings a lot of heartache and disruption to your individual and family lives. Our attorneys not only represent you through the legal process of divorce in Family Court but also strive to provide you with workable solutions for your household – from advising you of your legal rights and obligations regarding your former spouse to dealing with the emotional and financial impact of divorce. Over the last three decades, we have also developed a large network of trusted professionals who work with us to successfully address our clients’ needs.
When a couple decides to divorce, all marital property and debt is subject to equitable division, which involves consideration of numerous financial and practical factors. There may be a non-marital property that may have been acquired prior to or during a marriage that is not subject to division. Valuation of personal, business, and retirement assets is often complicated, especially in high asset and high-income cases. Tax considerations must also be addressed during the division, transfer, and sale of marital property. Whether it is your home, business, vehicles, pension or retirement benefits, debts, or other assets under consideration, our detailed-oriented and experienced Attorneys are prepared and available to advise and represent you in obtaining a financial resolution in your divorce.
Whether you are a mother or a father, we recognize that your children are a top priority. When it comes to parental decision-making, residency, and visitation schedules, we take our role as your advisor, advocate, and legal representative seriously. Custody issues may be resolved through mediation and/or litigation. Our Attorneys understand there is no “one size fits all” approach in addressing a parent’s concerns and the children’s needs. Unfortunately, in some instances, the relationship between the parents can be difficult and uncooperative leading to attempts to alienate the children from one of the parents. Our Attorneys have experience in high conflict custody cases, and we have many resources that will help support our clients and their children.
Grandparents, family members, and significant others are often Involved in assisting parents who are unable to provide care for their children, because of substance abuse, incarceration, mental health issues, or other personal problems. We can assist potential Guardians by providing the legal and practical information needed to assure that any child can remain safe and secure in a caretaker’s home when parents are not able to meet their responsibilities.
There are many complexities involving children whose permanent resolution and placement may be adoption. Adoption by a step-parent or family member, through a private agency or the State is heavily regulated and can be very challenging to navigate. Our Attorneys have extensive experience in both termination of parental rights and adoption proceedings.
Protection from Abuse
Domestic violence impacts the whole family. If you are a victim of abuse, you can obtain a Protection from Abuse Order to help protect yourself and your family members. Some parties may be subjected to unsupported allegations of abuse by a parent attempting to gain an advantage in custody or property division. In addition to a “no contact” provision, Protection from Abuse Orders may also contain provisions regarding custody, visitation, child and spousal support, and counseling and treatment. Whether you are seeking protection or need to defend against the claims made against you, our Attorneys offer you experienced and effective representation.
Alimony and Spousal Support
The issue of alimony frequently arises during the divorce proceeding. When one household separates into two, you may need temporary or permanent financial support from your former spouse. Overall, it is the goal that each spouse becomes self-sufficient and financially independent following the divorce. However, the law recognizes that each spouse may have contributed to the marriage in different ways. Under some circumstances, you may need time and financial support to obtain additional education and training. The Court will weigh a variety of factors in determining the length and amount of alimony on a case-by case basis. Mathematics and tax calculations are also involved as each spouse is required to prepare a household budget of reasonable monthly expenses, and there may be a savings of joint income if payments are properly designated as ‘alimony’. Our Attorneys can explain, support and guide you through this process.
Although Delaware has a nationally recognized approach to determining the parents’ respective child support obligations, we can help you with the nuances of the Delaware “Melson” Child Support Formula and assist in the determination, modification and enforcement of child support.