Delaware Child Support Laws and Guidelines

The laws governing child support in Delaware are different from that of other states. DE child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.

As you may already know, child support (or child maintenance) is a continuous monetary payment made by a spouse to another spouse, guardian, caregiver,  or the state for the upkeep of children after a divorce or separation.

The person who is required to pay child support is referred to as the “obligor,” whereas the person who is eligible to receive child maintenance is referred to as the “obligee.”

What is DE Child Support Laws?

According to Delaware law, both parents are required to provide financial assistance for their children until they are 18 years old, or if they are still in high school until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first. No matter if the parents are, were, or never were married, this is the law.

The Delaware Child Support Formula specifies that each parent retains a percentage of the total support obligation in their own households in cases of shared custody. To guarantee that the children live up to the same standard in both houses, the higher earner pays the lower earner.

In custody disputes, there is no bias in Delaware for mothers over fathers; instead, what is best for the child comes first. If the non-custodial parent also resides in Delaware, a child support order can typically be obtained within three months of completing your application.

What does Child Support Cover in Delaware?

Though there are no explicit items listed for coverage in Delaware child support statutes, the goal of the child support system is to make sure that the child maintains an adequate living standard. All child support payments are made with the child’s best interests in mind. Sometimes, the non-paying parent may not be certain what the payment should cover. Child support payments in DE are meant to cover the following:
– Basic necessities;
– Childcare;
– Medical care;
– College expenses.
– Educational fees;
– Entertainment;
– Extracurricular activities; and
– Transportation/travel

Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Delaware

To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Delaware is no exception.

The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Delaware courts do not have authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.

As a result of the UIFSA, a DE child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.

How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Delaware?

How Child Maintenance Calculated In Delaware

Learn How Child Maintenance Calculated In Delaware

To calculate child maintenance, Delaware uses the Melson Formula, which is a blend of the cost-sharing and income-sharing models and mandates that each parent’s fundamental needs be satisfied before child support is decided.

In Delaware, a parent’s net available income is the main factor used to determine child support. The monthly gross income of a parent is used to calculate their net available income before taxes, other permitted deductions, and self-support allowance are subtracted.

The monthly income of each parent and the amount of time each parent spends with the child are factors in the child support calculation. This can be done easily using the Delaware Child Support Calculator or Child Support Worksheet.

Delaware Child Support Calculator or Worksheet

While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the DE courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents.

Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.

The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.

Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance

For child support calculation purposes, gross income includes:

  • all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
  • self-employment income
  • all taxable unearned income, including severance pay, dividends, workers’ compensation, pensions, etc.
  • interest and dividends
  • net rental income from property the parent owns
  • other non-taxable income

Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:

  • severance pay
  • unemployment benefits
  • retirement benefits
  • veterans’ benefits
  • disability benefits, or
  • workers’ compensation awards.

Net Income for DE Guidelines

How to determine Net Income for DE child support

How to determine Net Income for DE child support

Remove the following costs from the total gross income to get the parent’s net income for paying child support in Delaware:

  • Social Security taxes, or any mandated retirement plan contributions if the parent does not pay those taxes.
  • Income taxes, both federal and state (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption)
  • union dues
  • The DE court has ruled the parent to pay the child’s health and dental insurance premiums, as well as additional medical bills.

Parents who have already paid child support for another kid or children (from a previous relationship) may be eligible for a refund.

Factors Delaware Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance

The following factors must be considered by the court when determining whether Delaware Family Code applies:

  • The age of the child and needs; the parents’ ability to assist
  • Financial resources available to the child
  • For a set period of time, you have custody and access to a child.
  • An increase or decrease in the obligee’s earnings or income due to the obligee’s property and assets
  • Child care expenses incurred by either parent in order to keep a job
  • any other children under the care of either party
  • Any other children under the care of either party
  • What kind of alimony or spousal maintenance is being paid or received;
  • Obligor or obligee receives an automobile, house, or other benefits from his or her employer or business entity.
  • The parties or the child’s special education, health-care, or other expenses
  • The cost of traveling to obtain custody of and access to a child.
  • Cash flow from any estate and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business property, can be positive or negative.

Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Delaware?

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Delaware

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Delaware

Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Delaware, either or both parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.

Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.

For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.

How to Modify Child Support Order

To petition for a child support modification in Delaware, you need to file Form 342 with the Family court. This can only be done if you meet the following criteria:

  • you have an active Child Support Order with the court; and
  • If the current support amount was estimated or decided more than 2 1/2 years ago OR
  • If less than two and a half years have passed since the previous support decision and there has been a significant change in circumstances involving the Petitioner’s income, health insurance cost or availability, daycare or private school tuition, the number of minor children ordered to be supported, or the number of additional minor children to support, without the Petitioner’s fault.

In the Family Court of the State of Delaware, the Division of Child Support Services files petitions for child support, the modification of support orders, and the enforcement of support orders.

A petition for modification is first sent to mediation after being filed. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, a hearing before a Family Court Commissioner will be scheduled.

The order will be changed in accordance with the Delaware Child Support Formula Calculation. No order filed within two and a half years may be amended, unless the computation shows a shift (upward or downward) of 10% or more.

A mediation conference will be scheduled if a parent fails to pay child support as required and a petition for the execution of the order is submitted. If a second or any additional enforcement petitions are submitted, a Family Court Commissioner or Judge will be given responsibility for them.

Steps to Collect Child Support in Delaware

Steps to Collect Child Support in Delaware

Steps to Collect Child Support in Delaware

Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Delaware. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in DE

1. Open a Child Support Case

Complete a child support application with your local child support agency/office

2. Locate the Other Parent

To begin the child maintenance procedure in DE, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.

3. Establish Parentage

It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating the sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.

4. Establish a Child Support Order

A Delaware child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.

5. Set Up Payment

Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.

6. Enforce the Support Order

Your DE child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.

7. Review the Order

Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.

Delaware Child Support Services Office, Number and Login Portal

Division of Child Support Services (DCSS)

New Castle County
Churchman’s Corporate Center
84A Christiana Road
New Castle, DE 19720
Phone: +1 (302) 577-7171

Kent County
Dover office
905 S.Governors Ave
Dover, DE 19904
Phone: +1 (302) 739-8299

Sussex County
Georgetown Professional Park
20105 Office Circle
Georgetown, DE 19947
Phone: +1 (302) 856-5386

Website: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dcse/

Retroactive Child Support and Arrears

A petition for “arrears” may be filed by DCSS or the party entitled to receive support if a parent refuses to make the required payments. The order amount may be increased at the hearing, and sanctions like license suspension, attachment of wages, or jail may also be discussed.

In order to enforce child support arrears payments in DE, the custodial parent should do the following:

  • Visit the DCSS office or website
  • Get or download the Form 343 (Petition for Child Support Arrears)
  • If you currently have a child support order in place, but over the previous 90 days, you have not received payments as directed by the court, fill out this form.

If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.

How to Check your Child Support Payment History in DE

Child Support Payment History in DE

How to Check Child Support Payment History in DE

When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.

To view payment history or track pending payments,

  • Visit the DCSS child support payment accounting web page
  • Select the iPayOnline option
  • Register online (if you have not). Employers must have a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
  • Make payments or view payment history

For more information, please call (302) 577-7171

How to Pay Child Maintenance in Delaware

In Delaware, parents can pay child maintenance in a variety of ways, as long as your order doesn’t state otherwise:

  • Check
  • Money order
  • Income Withholding Order (IWO)
  • iPayOnline
  • Credit and debit (through iPay Online)

When Does Child Support End in Delaware?

According to Delaware law, both parents are required to provide financial assistance for their children until they are 18 years old, or, if they are still in high school until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first.

Payments, however, can go on indefinitely if the child has a physical or mental disability, depending on the court’s ruling.

Custody Rights of a Child in Delaware

Understanding Custody Rights of a Child in Delaware

How Does DE Child Support Work if one Parent Has no Job?

A parent’s plausible earning capacity will be assumed by the court to be at least 40 hours per week and at least the current minimum wage if income is not documented, if a parent is unemployed or underemployed either voluntarily or because of their own misconduct, or if a parent misses a hearing or mediation.

Nonetheless, the judge may impute the parents’ prior income and calculate support on that amount if parents who, voluntarily or through wrongdoing, have a fall in income.

If it would be unfair to attribute income to a parent, the court will consider that parent’s specific circumstances.

The Delaware Department of Labor‘s salary surveys can be used by the court to determine if parents are making as much money as they reasonably can.

Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Delaware?

NO. In Delaware, child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.

However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.

Getting a Skilled Delaware Child Support Attorney

If you are involved in a family law matter in Delaware, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.

If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in DE with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.

Click Here to Get our Free Delaware Alimony recommendation.

Child Support Laws in all 50 States

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T-U - Tennessee |  Texas |  Utah
V-W - Vermont |  Virginia |  Washington |  West Virginia |  Wisconsin |  Wyoming

Delaware Resource

- Delaware Child Adoption Guidelines
- Delaware Childcare Guidelines
- Delaware Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Delaware Child Support Guidelines
- Delaware Divorce Guidelines
- Delaware Marital Property Guidelines
- Delaware Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Delaware Child Support Payment History

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