In the Context of Estate Matter, the Delaware Court of Chancery Acknowledges that it Lacks Jurisdiction to Decide Questions that Pertain to the “Support of Children”

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

Posted March 18, 2013

Cummings v. Estate of Ronald E. Lewis, C.A. No. 6948-VCP (March 14, 2013)

Plaintiff is seeking an award against the estate of her daughter’s father under Delaware’s after-born child statute, 12 Del. C. § 301.  Plaintiff maintains that the decedent, well-known  boxing promoter and businessman Ronald E. “Butch” Lewis, fathered her child shortly before his death.  The court’s opinion dealt with several issues  relating to a motion for leave to amend filed by the estate and the other defendants. The defendants sought to amend their answer to include several requests for instruction and to add an affirmative defense.  In deciding that motion, the Court examined whether the Family Court had exclusive jurisdiction over any of the issues such that Chancery’s jurisdiction was abrogated.  In so doing, the court examined the General Assembly’s intent, including its enactment of 10 Del. § 921, which gave Family Court “exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings concerning . . . any petitions or actions for the . . . support of children.”  The court accordingly found that it lacked jurisdiction over several of the requests for instruction that defendants sought to add as those requests related to the “support of children.” Consequently, the court found that allowing defendants to add such requests would be futile.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.