Delaware Senate passes family court access bill that keeps many proceedings private

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DOVER, Delaware — The state Senate has passed a bill outlining what proceedings in Delaware's family court system should be open to the public.

Delaware's constitution says all courts shall be open, but many Family Court proceedings are nevertheless closed to the public because of laws passed by the General Assembly.

Under the bill approved Tuesday and sent to the House, proceedings involving guardianships and children would be presumed private, although judges could open them for certain reasons.

Conversely, paternity and divorce hearings would be presumed public but could be closed by a judge for certain reasons, including preferences of the parties involved.

Wilmington Democrat Karen Peterson was the only senator to speak against the bill, saying it does little to increase transparency and instead creates several excuses to keep the public out.

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