A Delaware Family Court Task Force, appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Patricia Blevins and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, is charged with reviewing the feasibility of opening Family Court proceedings to the public. It wants to hear from members of the public as it prepares its recommendations to the General Assembly.
Currently, Family Court proceedings involving:
• Adoption or termination of parental rights
• Custody rights and visitation
• Dependency or neglect, guardianship
Divorce, alimony and property division are legally “presumed closed” (private) unless participants can make a case for opening proceedings to the public. The task force is discussing each of those cases to determine if a specific case type should continue to be “presumed closed” or changed to “presumed open,” meaning the public may attend.
In order for the task force to do a comprehensive analysis of each case type, members are seeking input from members of the public. Specifically, they would like to know what case type responders were involved in, whether they think the court proceeding should stay “presumed closed” (private) or be changed to “presumed open” (public) and why they feel that way. Does the person feel the outcome of the court case would be better if the court had been open to the public, or feel the court case would be better heard in a private setting, closed to the public?
Prior to each task force meeting, the three public members, Mariann Kenville-Moore, Raetta McCall and Lynn Kokjohn, hold a public discussion period to gather input on the issues. This interactive discussion between the public, the three public members and such other task force members as may be present is designed to gather public opinion.
The regular task force meeting will follow from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The task force has also scheduled meetings for Monday, March 3, with public comment from 12:30 to 1:25 p.m; and Tuesday, April 8, with public comment from 8:30 to 9:25 a.m.
Send written comments to Dick.Carter@state.de.us. Note that comments will be anonymous. People may also call Dick Carter at 302-744-4155 to give him an opinion.
For more information on the task force, go to legis.delaware.gov/TaskForces and click on Family Court Task Force.