NEW HAMPSHIRE DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding no-fault divorce in New Hampshire (NH). Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.|
- Time Frame: A first appearance is normally within 30 days of the filing, and the spouses normally receive the final decree within 30 days after the first appearance.
- Where to File: Superior Court. "The State of New Hampshire, Superior Court in and for ________________."
- State Statutes: New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated; Chapters 458:5, 458:6, and 458.9.
- Name of Action: Petition for Divorce.
- Name of Parties: Petitioner, the name of the filing spouse, and respondent, the name of the non-filing spouse.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both No-Fault and Fault.
- Primary Documents Filed: Petition for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: The grounds for a legal separation - separate maintenance - are the same as those for divorce.
- Grounds: No-Fault, which means Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage; and Fault, which includes traditional grounds and a refusal to cohabitate for six months.
- Residency Requirement: Both parties must be residents of the state and the petitioner must be a resident of New Hampshire for a least one year prior to filing or; the grounds occurred in the state and one of the spouses must be a resident for at least one year before filing. The divorce shall be filed in the county in which either spouse resides.
- Mediation Required: Mediation is voluntary in New Hampshire.
- Counseling Required: if the court believes there is likelihood for rehabilitation of the marriage relationship, before or during a hearing but before a final decree, it shall refer the parties to an appropriate counseling agency. The court may make the referral if the parties request it.
- Parenting Classes Required: New Hampshire requires divorcing parents to complete the Child Impact Program before a Decree of Divorce is issued and the divorce is finalized. This program is a 4 hour long workshop/seminar to help parents understand the impact of divorce and custody decisions on children both during and after divorce. The seminar helps boost a child's self esteem and resolve or prevent parental conflict at home.
In order to have your divorce finalized by the New Hampshire court, you must show proof to the court that attendance at the workshop/seminar has been successfully completed. This is done by filing the Certificate of Completion with the Clerk of the Court as soon as possible. Parents should register and try to attend the workshop/seminar soon after the initial divorce paperwork is filed. This way lack of attendance will not slow down the process of getting the divorce and early registration is expected. A court may waive the attendance requirement depending on the circumstances of the parents.
- Filing Fee: Up to $225. (See NH Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: A deadbeat parent faces a variety of penalties including jail time. The Division of Child Support Services of the New Hampshire of the Department of Health and Human Services assists in the collection and enforcement of child support.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: New Hampshire utilizes the percentage of income formula that calculates the amount of child support as a percentage of the income of the obligor (paying) parent.
In New Hampshire, child support is established by statute, and described in New Hampshire Revised Statutes §458-C:3: Child Support Formula. To calculate support, the court multiplies the parents' total net income by the appropriate percentage found on the child support table. The total child support obligation is divided between the parents in proportion to their respective incomes. The court deducts allowable childcare expenses or medical support obligation expenses incurred by the custodial parent from the adjusted gross income of the custodial parent. The court deviates from the guidelines when following them would be “unjust or inappropriate.” Generally, support ends at 18 years of age, or when the child marries married or begins military service. Many parents agree to a support amount that is different than the state guidelines. When doing so, the court will compare the agreed upon amount to the amount produced by the state guidelines before approving or denying it. Parents are often burdened with the task of making the judge understand why the amount they have agreed upon is better suited and fully adequate to support the child (ren).
- Property Division: Equitable distribution, with an all-property routine.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is marital.
- Attendance at Hearing: Both spouses must attend the First Appearance Session, which is not really a hearing, but rather an opportunity for the Court to meet with the parties and explain how the process will go. If both parties agree to waive the divorce hearing in the Final Decree, the First Appearance Session is the only time either appears in court. If one spouse lives a outside the state, oftentimes the requirement to attend the First Appearance Session is waived.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: No.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Divorce papers may be served on the office of the Secretary of State, with the same effect as if served on the defendant at his or her abode or place of business in the state or country where he or she resides.
- Divorce Records: The NH Department of State, Division of Vital Records Administration, Registration/Certification
In New Hampshire, a person wanting a copy of a Divorce Certificate completes the Form VR201, which is an application for a certified copy of the divorce record. He or she submits the application to the New Hampshire Department of State, Division of Vital Records Administration, Registration/Certification, located at 71 South Fruit Street, Concord, New Hampshire 03301 and must follow specific instructions regarding payments and self addressed return envelopes etc. Certified copies of Divorce Certificates are only released to applicants that clearly have a "direct and tangible" interest in obtaining the record. This way a certified copy is not available to the public for privacy reasons. When making the application, one must provide proper identification and it is often restricted to parties of the divorce case, specially the spouses and/or relatives. A copy of the actual Decree of Divorce must be obtained from the county in which the divorce was filed and finalized. The actual Decree of Divorce will contain the terms of the divorce settlement versus just the basic facts that are included in the Divorce Certificate.