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Delaware Domestic Violence Laws

The definition of domestic violence in Delaware includes (but isn't limited to) physical or sexual abuse, or threats of physical or sexual abuse, or any other offense against the person committed by a parent against:

  • The other parent
  • Any child living in either parent's home, or
  • Any other adult living in the child's home

Domestic violence doesn't include acts of self-defense by a parent defending either themselves or their child from abuse (or threats of abuse) by the other parent or another adult living in the child's home. The table below outlines Delaware's main domestic violence law.

Code Section

Delaware Code section 1041(2): Domestic Violence

What's Prohibited?

Domestic abuse occurs when abuse is committed against a family member or former spouse.

What Constitutes "Abuse?"

Abuse means conduct that constitutes any of the following:
  • Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause physical injury or a sexual offense
  • Intentionally or recklessly placing or attempting to place another person in reasonable apprehension of physical injury or a sexual offense
  • Intentionally or recklessly damaging, destroying, or taking the tangible property of another
  • Engaging in a course of alarming or distressing conduct in a manner that is likely to cause fear, emotional distress, or to provoke a violent or disorderly response
  • Trespassing on the property of another when the trespasser has been excluded by a court order
  • Child abuse
  • Unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, or interference with custody and coercion, or
  • Any other conduct that a reasonable person under the circumstances would find threatening or harmful

Order of Protection from Abuse

Survivors of domestic violence can petition the court for an order of protection (also referred to as a restraining order) in order to help stop the cycle of abuse. Protective orders can't guarantee that the abuser won't commit another act of domestic violence, but they do allow the victim to have the abuser arrested if any provision of the order is violated. But what provisions are usually included in an order of protection? The court will include provisions that it deems to be appropriate for the situation, but standard provisions include:

  • No abuse
  • No contact with the victim
  • The victim may be given exclusive use of the shared residence
  • Temporary custody of the children
  • Conditions of visitation with the children
  • Child support or financial support for the victim
  • Surrender of firearms
  • Counseling

For more information about protective orders in Delaware visit the Delaware State Courts' webpage on understanding the protection from abuse process.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Delaware's domestic violence laws contact a local criminal defense lawyer.

If you are a domestic violence survivor there is help available for you. During an emergency dial 911, and when you're safe contact the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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