HouseA prior post examined House Bill 271 regarding the definition of “marital property.”  Marital property was generally defined as “all property acquired by either party subsequent to the marriage.”  House Bill 271, which has now been signed into law, expands the definition of marital property to include “jointly-titled real property acquired by the parties prior to their marriage, unless excluded by valid agreement of the parties.” With this expanded definition real estate that was acquired before the parties were married, perhaps even long before, could be divided in a divorce.

 

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Leslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

Dollar-Signs-216x300House Bill 294, which was introduced on March 23rd, proposes a new method of collecting child support arrears.  The Bill requires the Division of Child Support Enforcement to maintain a list of persons who are in arrears of their child support obligation.  In addition, it would impose an obligation on any attorney or insurer to consult this list before releasing any funds to clients or prevailing parties in a claim, lawsuit or civil arbitration for bodily injury or death under a property and casualty insurance policy, or paid as a workers’ compensation or occupational disease act award under a workers’ compensation policy.  If support is owed, the Bill requires that the total amount of support arrears to be paid before any funds (except the first $1,000) may be released to the support obligor.  The Bill is currently assigned to the Health & Human Development Committee in the House of Representatives.

 

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Spoltore_LeslieLeslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

The Delaware Judiciary recently issued its 2015 Annual Report. The Report includes a message from Chief Justice Strine, as well messages from the Chancellor, President or Chief Judge from each Court.  The Report also contains a fiscal overview and a summary of 2015 legislation that impacts the Judiciary.

In addition, the Judiciary published Statistical Information for 2015. The Statistical Information includes,

  • The Average time from filing to disposition of appeals to the Supreme Court;
  • The Average time from submission to disposition of appeals to the Supreme Court; and
  • Caseload breakdown and disposition of matters filed in each Court with comparisons to previous years.

The 2015 Annual Report and Reports from prior years can be found on the Court’s website.

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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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

Prior posts have examined how Delaware law defines and divides marital property.  Presently, marital property is generally defined as “all property acquired by either party subsequent to the marriage.”  13 Del. C. § 1513(b). House Bill 271, which was recently introduced, proposes to expand that definition to include “jointly-titled real property acquired by the parties prior to their marriage, unless excluded by valid agreement of the parties.”  The Bill is currently assigned to the Judiciary Committee in the House.

House

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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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

A prior post addressed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9, entitled “A Resolution To Create A Blue Ribbon Task Force To Review Open Family Court Proceedings”, and Senate Bill 119. Under the terms of Senate Bill 119 Family Court proceedings regarding paternity, divorce, property division and alimony would be presumed to be public.  The Family Court would retain the discretion to hold the proceedings in private in certain circumstances.  Adoption, custody, visitation, third party visitation, Child Protection Registry and child welfare hearings would remain private, but the Family Court could open those hearings to the public in certain circumstances.  The Bill continues its path through the legislative process and is scheduled to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee today.

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Leslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

 

 

bill of rightsEarlier this month Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 46 into law.  The Bill establishes a Bill of Rights for children in the custody of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.  The Bill of Rights provides:

 

Rights of children in DSCYF custody.

(a) All dependent, neglected and abused children in DSCYF custody under this chapter shall have the following rights in accordance with his or her age and developmental level, unless prohibited by Court order:

(1) To be informed of the reason they have been placed in DSCYF custody.

(2) To receive water, food, shelter, and clothing that is necessary and appropriate for their age and individual needs.

(3) To be free from abuse or neglect.

(4) To have assistance in obtaining access to medical, vision, and dental treatment that is necessary and appropriate for their age and individual needs; and to have assistance in obtaining access to necessary and appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment if the need for such treatment is identified.

(5) To receive appropriate placement services.

(6) To contact and visit with their parents, siblings in DSCYF custody, and other individuals, including their own child in DSCYF custody. If such contact or visitation is inappropriate, the child has the right to be notified of the reason for that decision.

(7) To have assistance in obtaining access to an education, at their school of origin when feasible, with minimal disruption to their education when they are placed in DSCYF custody.

(8) To participate in the formation and maintenance of their foster care service, independent living and transition plans, where applicable.

(9) To have regular and meaningful access to and have confidential contact with their caseworker and attorney or court-appointed special advocate.

(10) To be notified, attend, and participate in court hearings and to speak to the judge regarding any decision that may have an impact on their life.

(11) To have their confidentiality protected as required by state and federal law.

(12) To receive independent living services and supports beginning at age 16 if eligible and if resources are available.

(13) To report any violation of their rights or the violation of the rights of others without being punished or retaliated against for such reporting.

(14) To receive a copy of the rights set forth in this section.

(b) Any child aggrieved by a violation of this section may motion the Court, through an attorney or court-appointed special advocate, for appropriate equitable relief.

 

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leslie_SpoltoreLeslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

 

Senate Bill 85, which is designed to improve the enforcement of child support orders, was recently signed into law. The Summary describes the Bill in more detail as follows:

Before 1950, a parent who wanted child support from another parent who lived in another state had to travel to that state to take legal action. In 1950, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) drafted the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) to allow participating states to enforce each other’s support orders. URESA was amended in 1952 and 1958 and was amended and renamed the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA) in 1968. Ultimately, all states adopted one or more versions of the ULC’s uniform acts on this subject.

In 1992, the ULC promulgated a new act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which Delaware adopted in 1994. The ULC revised UIFSA in 1996 and 2001, with Delaware adopting the 2001 version in 2005.

In November 2007, the United States signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (Convention). In 2008, the ULC revised its 2001 version of UIFSA to integrate the appropriate provisions of the Convention into UIFSA, to put the Convention into effect.

This Act adopts the 2008 version of UIFSA, to improve the enforcement of United States child support orders abroad and ensure children residing in the United States will receive the financial support due from parents wherever those parents may reside. This Act also complies with the 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, signed by the President of the United States in September 2014, which requires all states enact the 2008 version of UIFSA by the end of their 2015 legislative session as a condition for continued receipt of federal funds supporting state child support programs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) explained in an Information Memorandum dated October 9, 2014 that, “once UIFSA is in effect in your state, international cases will not be processed under Article 7 of UIFSA 2008 until the 2007 Family Maintenance Convention enters into force for the United States. Once this occurs, Article 7 of UIFSA 2008 will be in effect for all cases transmitted and received under the 2007 Family Maintenance Convention.” OCSE further noted, in an Information Memorandum dated April 13, 2015, that, “[o]nce all states have enacted UIFSA 2008, the President will sign the instrument of ratification, and deposit that instrument as required for the U.S. to become a party to the treaty.”

This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the guidelines of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

The Bill may be read in its entirety here.

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Leslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com

 

Governor Jack Markell recently signed Senate Bill 85 into law.  The bill amends Subchapter I, Chapter 6, Title 13 of the Delaware Code regarding interstate child support.  The synopsis to the Bill describes is purpose and effect as follows:

Before 1950, a parent who wanted child support from another parent who lived in another state had to travel to that state to take legal action. In 1950, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) drafted the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA) to allow participating states to enforce each other’s support orders. URESA was amended in 1952 and 1958 and was amended and renamed the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA) in 1968. Ultimately, all states adopted one or more versions of the ULC’s uniform acts on this subject.

In 1992, the ULC promulgated a new act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which Delaware adopted in 1994. The ULC revised UIFSA in 1996 and 2001, with Delaware adopting the 2001 version in 2005.

In November 2007, the United States signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (Convention). In 2008, the ULC revised its 2001 version of UIFSA to integrate the appropriate provisions of the Convention into UIFSA, to put the Convention into effect.

This Act adopts the 2008 version of UIFSA, to improve the enforcement of United States child support orders abroad and ensure children residing in the United States will receive the financial support due from parents wherever those parents may reside. This Act also complies with the 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, signed by the President of the United States in September 2014, which requires all states enact the 2008 version of UIFSA by the end of their 2015 legislative session as a condition for continued receipt of federal funds supporting state child support programs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) explained in an Information Memorandum dated October 9, 2014 that, “once UIFSA is in effect in your state, international cases will not be processed under Article 7 of UIFSA 2008 until the 2007 Family Maintenance Convention enters into force for the United States. Once this occurs, Article 7 of UIFSA 2008 will be in effect for all cases transmitted and received under the 2007 Family Maintenance Convention.” OCSE further noted, in an Information Memorandum dated April 13, 2015, that, “[o]nce all states have enacted UIFSA 2008, the President will sign the instrument of ratification, and deposit that instrument as required for the U.S. to become a party to the treaty.”

The Bill may be viewed in its entirety here.

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leslie_SpoltoreLeslie 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com

 

 

 

Family Court SealMost Family Court proceedings and files are closed.  As a result, only the parties and their attorneys may be present for hearings or access Court documents.  Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 9, entitled “A Resolution To Create A Blue Ribbon Task Force To Review Open Family Court Proceedings”, established a panel to examine whether more proceedings should be open.  On June 9, 2015, Senate Bill 119 was introduced and is based on the recommendations of the Task Force.  Under the terms of this legislation paternity, divorce, property division and alimony matters would be presumed to be public, but the Court would retain the discretion to hold the proceedings in private in certain circumstances.  Adoption, custody, visitation, third party visitation, Child Protection Registry and child welfare hearings would remain private, but the Family Court may open those hearings to the public in certain circumstances.  The Bill, which has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, may be viewed here.

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Leslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.

The Associated Press and CBS Sports have recently reported on an action filed in Mississippi by Sherrie Allison Miller.  Ms. Miller, the ex-wife of pro golfer John Daly, is pursuing a claim for alienation of affection. In essence, Ms. Miller claims that Mr. Daly’s girlfriend, Anna Cladakis, is responsible for the brake up her marriage.  One thing that makes this case so interesting is that Mississippi is one of only a handful of states that permits a claim for alienation of affection.  What is equally interesting is that Mr. Daly and Ms. Miller were not residents of Mississippi, nor was Ms. Cladakis.  Despite the absence of residency, Mississppi found the forum proper stating,

Because Miller’s prima facie showing evidences that Cladakis availed herself of the “privilege of conducting activities” with Daly in the state of Mississippi, we do not find it improper to bring her back into Mississippi to defend the alienation-of-affection case that arose out of those alleged activities.

Miller v. Provident Advertising and Marketing, Inc., 2014 WL 2735194 (Miss. App. June 17, 2014).

Notably, Delaware prohibits actions for alienation of affection.  In 1972 the First State passed legislation prohibiting such claims here. Specifically, Section 3924 of Title 10 provides,

Causes of action abolished for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, enticement and breach of contract to marry.

The rights of action to recover sums of money as damages for alienation of affections, criminal conversation, seduction, enticement, or breach of contract to marry are abolished. No act done in this State shall operate to give rise, either within or without this State, to any such right of action. No contract to marry made or entered into in this State shall operate to give rise, either within or without this State, to any cause or right of action for its breach.

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Leslie Spoltore is a Partner 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 lspoltore@foxrothschild.com.