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Delaware Child Support
Child Support in Delaware

According to the Delaware Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapters 501, 514, and 701, the Delaware courts consider the following factors in child support:

  • the financial resources of the child;
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if there had been no divorce;
  • the age and health of the parents;
  • the earning capacity of each parent;
  • the amount and sources of income of each parent;
  • the age, health, or station of the child;
  • the estate and needs of the child; and
  • the relative financial means of the parents.

Delaware child support is typically calculated by using a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet shows an appropriate Delaware child support obligation according to each spouse’s income and other relative numeric factors, such as taxes paid and retirement contributions.

Divorcing parents routinely look at any appropriate Delaware child support deviation factors that may be applicable.

Additional information about Delaware child support can be found in the Delaware state statutes.

Delaware works on the Melson formula, and considers both parents responsible for support. The Melson formula allocates to each parent a poverty self-support reserve. The formula then determines the total remaining combined parental income, the noncustodial parent's percentage thereof, and applies the noncustodial parent's percentage to a standard primary support obligation based on the number of children. Finally, after the primary support obligation is subtracted, the formula assesses the noncustodial parent an additional percentage of his or her remaining income.

Delaware courts calculate child support based on the income of both parents that includes salaries, commissions, wages, alimony, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation and pension. In setting support, the court considers the custodial arrangement, the parents’ income, the standard of living all parties would have enjoyed had they all continued to live in the same household, the number of children who are owed support in the support action, child care expenses, and any other children for whom a parent is responsible for support.

Calculate Delaware Child Support

Other Expenses and Deductions

Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Childcare expenses are permissive deductions. Extraordinary medical expenses are deviation factors.

The childcare and extraordinary medical expenses are mandatory deductions.

In addition to income-based child support, the court may order that a parent include a child under the parent's health care coverage. If the noncustodial parent has access to health insurance, a Delaware court may expect a parent to include the child on it, and if he or she does not, the court may expect the parent to enroll the child in a public insurance and contribute cash medical support.

For more information about factors considered in a child support order in Delaware, speak with a qualified attorney in Delaware or refer to the Delaware Code.

Child Support Enforcement

The Delaware Division of Child Support Enforcement's maintains three offices in New Castle, Sussex, and Kent counties, which are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These offices offer assistance in child support enforcement. In addition DCSE maintains an Automated Assistance Line (AAL) that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provides pre-recorded information (in English & Spanish), including payment information.

Customer Service Representatives are also available during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST). Direct Deposit and the First State Family Pre-Paid MasterCard (Stored Value Card) are available to DCSE's custodial parents, providing instant access to child support funds.

Other services include paternity establishment, which determines a child's legal father. This includes the Voluntary Acknowledgement Program (VAP), which is a free service for unwed parents. It names the child's legal father without having to go to court.

Regulations explain roles and responsibilities of collaborating government agencies, including the Delaware Department of Justice and Family Court of Delaware.

More information about Delaware Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.


Child support continues until the child turns 18 or, if child is in high school, 19 or graduation from high school, whichever is first.

Deviation Factors

In some cases in Delaware, courts deviate from rigid child support formulas and make a different award.

Delaware courts deviate from the formula when the amount is unfair to the noncustodial parent and/or "not in the best interests of the child."

Usually, in deviating from guidelines, courts consider several factors. These factors include:

  • whether or not sticking to the standard child support formula would be unfair, or not in the best interests of the child;
  • the financial resources available to the child;
  • the educational needs of the child;
  • the physical and emotional conditions of the child;
  • inflation and the cost of living;
  • the financial needs of the supporting parent;
  • whether the supporting parent has incurred debts that were out of his or her control;
  • the existence of others dependent on the supporting spouse;
  • and the available financial assistance from the current spouse or domestic partner of each party.

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