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Grounds for divorce in Delaware

A divorce may be granted in Delaware divorce law on the grounds that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that reconciliation is improbable. A marriage is irretrievably broken where it is characterized by:

  1. Voluntary separation;
  2. Separation caused by respondent's misconduct;
  3. Separation caused by respondent's mental illness;
  4. Separation caused by incompatibility.

The only defense to a divorce action shall be the failure to establish either:

  1. The marriage of the parties;
  2. Jurisdictional requirements of 1504 of this title;
  3. That the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Bona fide efforts to achieve reconciliation prior to divorce, even those that include, temporarily, sleeping in the same bedroom and resumption of sexual relations, shall not interrupt any period of living separate and apart, according to Delaware divorce law, provided that the parties have not occupied the same bedroom or had sexual relations with each other within the 30-day period immediately preceding the day the court hears the petition for divorce.


In Delaware divorce law, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment is much more difficult to prove -- and is much rarer -- than divorce. If you want to go this route, you will definitely need to speak to a divorce attorney who works in Delaware divorce law. Of course, if you want an annulment for religious reasons, you'll need to consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well

Here are some of the common grounds for annulment (again, talk to a divorce lawyer before considering this route):

  1. A party lacked capacity to consent to the marriage at the time the marriage was solemnized, either because of mental incapacity or infirmity, or because of the influence of alcohol, drugs or other incapacitating substances;
  2. A party lacked the physical capacity to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse and the other party did not, at the time the marriage was solemnized, know of the incapacity;
  3. A party was less than legal age and did not have the consent of his or her parents or guardian or judicial approval as provided by law;
  4. One party entered into the marriage in reliance upon a fraudulent act or representation of the other party, which fraudulent act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage, as determined through Delaware divorce law;
  5. One or both parties entered into the marriage under duress exercised by the other party, or a third party, whether or not such other party knew of such exercise of duress, as decided through Delaware divorce law;
  6. One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare.


You'll need to provide your lawyer with the following documentation, in order to proceed with your dissolution as per Delaware divorce law. Start gathering everything together as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates.

Personal Data

  • Full addresses and phone numbers of both parties.
  • Full names, birth dates, and addresses of all children of the marriage, their school and grade.
  • Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
  • A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g. a prenuptial agreement).
  • Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
  • Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.

Financial Data

  • Your previous year's income tax return, and any related data from the IRS.
  • Information about your current income, e.g. a current pay slip.
  • A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.

On the right of this page, you will find a listing of family law attorneys. Be sure to visit these other pages to find out more about how best to work with a divorce attorney and to know more about Delaware divorce law.


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