Civil Union Bill Provides For Divorce/Annulment In The Delaware Family Court
On May 11, 2011, Governor Jack Markell signed into law Senate Bill 30, Delaware’s civil union bill. The bill amends Title 13 of the Delaware Code and extends to same-sex couples who solemnize their relationships many of the same protections and benefits enjoyed by married couples.
Just as it recognizes the right of a same-sex couple to form a union, the bill recognizes the couple’s right to terminate their union. To that end, the bill confers upon the Delaware Family Court the right to hear actions to dissolve civil unions brought by residents of the State of Delaware. In addition, the legislation permits Family Court to hear actions for divorce and annulment of civil unions filed by non-residents if the union was solemnized in Delaware and if the jurisdiction in which a party to the union lives does not permit such an action for divorce or annulment. Specifically, the bill states:
A civil union entered into or otherwise recognized under this chapter may be dissolved in the same form and manner as marriages entered into or otherwise recognized under chapter 1 of this title; provided, however, notwithstanding §§ 1504 and 1505(d) of this title, the Family Court of this State shall have, in addition to any other basis for jurisdiction it would otherwise have, jurisdiction over all proceedings for divorce and annulment of civil unions that are solemnized in this State under this chapter notwithstanding that the domicile or residency of the petitioner and the respondent are not in this State, if the jurisdiction of domicile or residency of the petitioner and/or the respondent does not by law affirmatively permit such a proceeding to be brought in the courts of that jurisdiction. All persons who enter into a civil union solemnized in this State consent to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the Family Court for all proceedings for divorce and annulment of such civil union, even if one or both parties no longer reside in this State. If neither of the parties to a civil union solemnized in this State reside in this State, any petition for divorce or annulment of such civil union shall be filed in the county in which one or both of such parties last resided in this State.
The bill, which may be viewed in its entirety here, becomes effective on January 1, 2012.
Leslie Spoltore is an attorney with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild's Wilmington, Delaware office. You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or email@example.com.