New Hampshire Divorce Laws
The state of New Hampshire has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how New Hampshire addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of New Hampshire divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our New Hampshire online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in New Hampshire, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
In order to file for a divorce, the parties must: I. both be residents of the state and the filing spouse must be a resident for a least 1 year prior to filing or; the grounds must have occurred in the state and one of the spouses must be a resident for at least 1 year prior to filing. The divorce shall be filed in the county in which either spouse resides. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:5, 458:6, 458:9)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of New Hampshire the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:7, 458:26)
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Petition for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: The State of New Hampshire, Superior Court in and for __________. All divorce cases in the state of New Hampshire are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a New Hampshire clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Superior Court.
Property and Debt Division: New Hampshire is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
The court shall presume that an equal division is an equitable distribution of property, unless the court decides that an equal division would not be appropriate. The court will consider the following factors: (1) The duration of the marriage. (2) The age, health, social or economic status, occupation, vocational skills, employability, separate property, amount and sources of income, needs and liabilities of each party. (3) The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income. (4) The ability of the custodial parent, if any, to engage in gainful employment without substantially interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of said party. (5) The need of the custodial parent, if any, to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects. (6) The actions of either party during the marriage which contributed to the growth or diminution in value of property owned by either or both of the parties. (7) Significant disparity between the parties in relation to contributions to the marriage, including contributions to the care and education of the children and the care and management of the home. (8) Any direct or indirect contribution made by one party to help educate or develop the career or employability of the other party (9) The expectation of pension or retirement rights acquired prior to or during the marriage. (10) The tax consequences for each party. (k) The value of property that is allocated by a valid prenuptial contract made in good faith by the parties. (11) The fault of either party a if said fault caused the breakdown of the marriage and: (12) The value of any property acquired prior to the marriage and property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage. (13) The value of any property acquired by gift, devise, or descent. (14) Any other factor that the court deems relevant. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:16)
Changing Name: In any divorce proceeding, except an action for legal separation, the court may, when a decree of divorce or nullity is made, restore a former name of the spouse, regardless of whether a request therefor had been included in the petition. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:24)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
In determining the amount of alimony to award, the court shall consider the: 1. length of the marriage; 2. the age, 3. health, social or economic status, 4. occupation, 5. amount and sources of income, 6. the property awarded, 7. vocational skills, 8. employability, estate, liabilities, and needs of each of the parties, 10. the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, 11. the fault of either party, 12. the Federal Tax consequences of the order.
In determining amount and sources of income, the court shall not consider a minor child's social security benefit payments or a second or subsequent spouse's income. The court may consider veterans' disability benefits collected by either or both parties to the extent permitted by federal law.
The court may also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of their respective estates and the noneconomic contribution of each of the parties to the family unit.
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the New Hampshire courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
In determining a child custody arrangement, the court shall be guided by the best interests of the child, and shall consider the following factors: (1) The relationship of the child with each parent and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance. (2) The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment. (3) The child's developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet them, both in the present and in the future. (d) The quality of the child's adjustment to the child's school and community and the potential effect of any change. (4) The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship (5) The support of each parent for the child's contact with the other parent as shown by allowing and promoting such contact. (6) The support of each parent for the child's relationship with the other parent. (7) The relationship of the child with any other person who may significantly affect the child. (8) The ability of the parents to communicate, cooperate with each other, and make joint decisions concerning the children. (9) Any evidence of abuse, and the impact of the abuse on the child (10) If a parent is incarcerated, the reason for and the length of the incarceration, and any unique issues that arise as a result of incarceration. (11) Any other additional factors the court deems relevant. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:17)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the New Hampshire child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The court will consider deviating from these guidelines after examining the following factors: (1) Ongoing extraordinary medical, dental or education expenses, including expenses related to the special needs of a child, incurred on behalf of the involved children; (2) Significantly high or low income of the obligee or obligor; (3) The economic consequences of the presence of stepparents, step-children or natural or adopted children; (4) Reasonable expenses incurred by the obligor parent in exercising parental rights and responsibilities, provided that the reasonable expenses incurred by the obligee parent for the minor children can be met regardless of such adjustment; (5) The economic consequences to either party of the disposition of a marital home made for the benefit of the child; (6) The opportunity to optimize both parties' after-tax income by taking into account Federal Tax consequences of an order of support; (7) State tax obligations; (8) Parenting schedule; (9) The economic consequences to either party of providing for the voluntary or court-ordered postsecondary educational expenses of a natural or adopted child; (10) Other special circumstances found by the court to avoid an unreasonably low or confiscatory support order, taking all relevant circumstances into consideration. (New Hampshire Statutes - Chapters: 458:17, 458:18)
Copyright Notice: These New Hampshire divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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