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O'Conner v. O'Conner

Supreme Court of Delaware

July 24, 2014

AMY O'CONNER, [1] Petitioner-Below, Appellant,
v.
ALVIN O'CONNER, Respondent-Below, Appellee

Submitted June 6, 2014

Motion for Rehearing en Banc filed August 4, 2014; Denied August 6, 2014. Case Closed August 6, 2014.

Court Below: Family Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County. File No. CN11-05574. Pet. Nos. 11-34821, 12-09808 and 13-01290.

Upon appeal from the Family Court. DISMISSED in part and REVERSED in part.

Amy O'Conner, Petitioner-Below, Appellant, Pro se.

Alvin O'Conner, Respondent-Below, Appellee, Pro se.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and RIDGELY, Justices.

OPINION

Page 131

STRINE, Chief Justice.

The appellant, Amy O'Conner (the " Mother" ), filed a notice of appeal on February 7, 2014 from three orders of the Family Court dated January 16, 2014, October 30, 2013, and July 22, 2013. All three orders were related to property division and child custody issues arising out of the Mother's divorce from Alvin O'Conner (the " Husband" ) in 2012. After careful consideration, we conclude that the Mother's appeal from the Family Court's 2013 orders must be dismissed as untimely. But we conclude that the Family Court abused its discretion in refusing to reopen the custody proceedings. Accordingly, the judgment dated January 16, 2014 is reversed.

The Father filed a petition for divorce on October 31, 2011 and requested that the Family Court retain jurisdiction over the issue of property division. The Mother did not file an answer.[2] The divorce was granted on July 10, 2012. The Mother filed a petition for custody on March 20, 2012. The Father also filed a petition for custody on January 16, 2013. The Family Court scheduled a pretrial conference as to the Father's petitions for property division and custody on June 20, 2013. After neither

Page 132

party made a timely appearance, the Family Court rescheduled the pretrial conference for July 22, 2013. The Mother appeared for the conference. The Father did not.

After some discussion on the record at the July 22, 2013 conference, the Family Court indicated that it would dismiss the Father's petitions because of his failure to appear and prosecute. No hearing had been scheduled on the Mother's petition for custody because she had not completed the required parenting ...


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