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General Information About Delaware Court Records and Laws
 The state of Delaware prides itself on being the first state in the country to join the Union in 1787. In fact, the website for the state court boldly reminds visitors that the Delaware court system is "The First State Judiciary".
The structure of the Delaware court system is somewhat more complex than the court systems of many other states in the U.S. Delaware features seven primary court venues, which include:
·         Justice of the Peace
·         Alderman's Court
·         Family Court
·         The Court of Common Pleas
·         Superior Court, the main trial court in the state
·         The Court of Chancery
·         Supreme Court
If you are working on a genealogy project, or you need information on particular judicial proceedings, you find exactly what you need in Delaware court records.
 The History of Delaware Court Records
A number of the courts in Delaware keep records, many of which have great genealogical value. The Dutch controlled Delaware from 1655 through 1664, and then the state was under New York until 1682. Delaware court records for this period can be found in the publication Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Volume 12. In addition, Delaware court records from 1649 through 1682 can be found in Delaware Papers by Charles T. Gehring.
Throughout the 1670's, the King's authority held Magistrate Courts. Then in the 1700's, The Court of Common Pleas was created in every county for the purpose of hearing minor civil cases, appeals from the lesser courts, minor criminal cases, terminations of parental rights and adoptions. In 1831, those powers were handed over to the superior court.
In addition, the Court of Common Pleas also handled matters that are now under the control of the Chancery Court until 1792, which include equity matters where a solution cannot be reached by common law or by the statute before another court.
Levy Court was established in 1655 and is currently a county administrative unit responsible for keeping Delaware court records pertaining to taxes, schools, probates, petitions, roads and tavern licensing.
Countywide jurisdiction has been provided to Orphans' Courts since 1683 to hear cases regarding adoptions, minor estates, guardianships and property rights.
In 1676, the Court of General Quarter Sessions was established. Today this court is responsible for Delaware court records that include petitions for taverns and roads as well as apprenticeship indentures. In addition, all cases except criminal cases may be tried by this court today. While the Court of Oyer and Terminer was created in 1746 and has the responsibility of hearing criminal court cases that relate to capital crimes.
The Justice of the Peace was first introduced in 1664 and has the responsibility today of maintaining Delaware court records related to minor civil cases. While Circuit and District Courts, which handle civil cases, criminal cases and naturalizations was not established until 1790.
In 1831, superior courts took over the responsibilities of the Court of Common Pleas. These county courts have jurisdiction over all major civil and criminal cases, including Delaware court records of naturalization.
Most original Delaware court records can be found through Delaware Public Archive. However, for information on recent court proceedings you may need to contact the particular section of the court system responsible for hearing the case in question.
Delaware Court Records
  • Legislation Records

    Division of Research
    PO Box 1401
    Dover, DE 19903
    p (302) 744-4114
    f (302) 739-3895
  • Statewide Court Records

    Supreme Court of Delaware
    500 N King St, #11600
    Wilmington, DE 19801
    p (302) 255-0090
    f (302) 255-2217

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