The Standard Contact Guidelines are guidelines that suggest provisions for contact, holidays, extracurricular activities, and incidental issues related to custody. The guidelines are just that—guidelines—based upon assumptions that both parents are able and fit to care for the child. Second, the guidelines are not legally binding, nor do they create a presumption of shared custody. If your custody case goes to a hearing before a Judge, the Court will apply the best interest of the child standard, without any presumption on what custody should be.
The Guidelines are useful in that they form a backdrop of what the Court may do if the parents cannot agree on certain issues, like how to share holidays. If the Guidelines are applied, holidays will be shared on an alternating year on, year off basis. The Guidelines also create expectations for what should happen in particular situations, such as a medical emergency, or ensuring that children complete homework.
Finally, even when the application of the Guidelines is deemed to be generally appropriate, they can and are adjusted to meet the needs of the particular family. Holidays can be adjusted, added, and/or dropped. As guidelines, any provision can be amended or discarded as deemed appropriate by the Court or agreed upon by the parents.
A parent engaged in custody litigation should review the Guidelines and speak to a knowledgeable family law attorney to determine whether and to what extent the Guidelines are appropriate for the case. Assuming the case is appropriate for the Guidelines, a parent should determine which if any provisions should be changed, and if so, how.
At MacElree Harvey, we have a family law team with several attorneys experienced and knowledgeable in family law. If you are wondering how the Guidelines could affect your case, you should contact our Delaware office at 302-654-4454.
The link to the standard contact guidelines can be found here: https://courts.delaware.gov/family/visitation/visitation.aspx